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Ed Driscoll

NBC’s Edit-Gate Worse Than CBS’ Rathergate

April 7th, 2012 - 2:30 pm

A day before NBC fired a still-unnamed producer for deliberately editing an audio tape to make Florida’s George Zimmerman sound racist, John Nolte of Big Hollywood wrote that this was a worse moment for TV news than Dan Rather and Mary Mapes’ debacle in September of 2004 — and he’s right:

The Peacock Network didn’t “misinterpret” what was in front of them and they didn’t jump the gun. What NBC did was ALTER what they had to make Zimmerman look racist.

On the storied ”Today Show,” NBC News told America Zimmerman said this on the 911 call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

When the truth is that the unedited audio actually went like this:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

TRANSLATION: George Zimmerman racially profiled the unarmed black teenager he shot.

When it came to Rathergate, CBS was targeting a powerful public figure with the resources to fight back. With Editgate, three major networks have targeted a private citizen, a man who does not appear to be wealthy, who has not been charged with a crime, who is innocent until proven guilty, and who is currently in hiding with a bounty on his head.

Worse still, these malicious attempts to paint Zimmerman as a liar and racist are not only attacks on Zimmerman, but through the intentional enflaming of racial divisions based on false and half-baked information, this is also an attack on the American people–especially the people currently sitting in the front row in Sanford, FL.

After the investigation we all want to see, it may very well be discovered that George Zimmerman committed a crime. But if it comes out that he in fact did act in justifiable self-defense, he’ll probably have lawyers beating down his door for a piece of ABC, CNN, and NBC.

Yesterday at the New York Times, Brian Stelter (whom last Friday broke the story of another former NBC employee receiving his pink slip on a Friday afternoon), reported that the producer responsible for smearing Zimmerman has been fired. But NBC is refusing to release the name of the producer, thus risking, as documentary maker Evan Coyne Maloney noted on Twitter, that he’ll go on to repeat this sort of incident elsewhere. While Stelter’s story claims, “Inside NBC, there was shock that the segment had been broadcast,” for NBC, ultimately, it’s really not that big a deal:

Citing an anonymous network executive, Reuters reported that “the ‘Today’ show’s editorial control policies — which include a script editor, senior producer oversight and in most cases legal and standards department reviews of material to be broadcast — missed the selective editing of the call.”

On April 4, the network news division said in a statement that it deeply regretted the “error made in the production process.”

“We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers,” the network said.

It did not specify what steps it would take. But one day later it dismissed a Miami-based producer who had worked at NBC for several years.

The people with direct knowledge of the firing characterized the misleading edit as a mistake, not a purposeful act.

Read that last sentence a couple of times and let it sink in — and then go back and read Nolte’s article in its entirety, to place it into context with all of the other attacks that the left have thrown at Zimmerman. As John writes, it’s entirely possible that Zimmerman could well be judged with a crime — but that’s for a court of law, not for a TV producer in his editing bay.

But then, as Glenn Reynolds writes, “It’s been clear since RatherGate, at least, that [the MSM is] willing — indeed, happy and, among their peers, even proud — to lie in the service of promoting Democrats. It’s only embarrassing when the public catches on.”

And as Tom Maguire adds, despite all of the information we now know about both Zimmerman and Martin since the story first broke, Old Media isn’t going to let facts get in the way of a good narrative, particularly during an election year. Which brings us to Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard:

If Obama is reelected with such terrible feelings about the national condition, it will be unprecedented in the history of public opinion polling. Obviously, that would be no little feat, so what this president is doing is a classic case of misdirection.

The country needs a bad guy to blame for its problems, so day in and day out Obama is providing them with a smorgasbord of villains from which to choose: Wall Street, Big Oil, the Tea Party, Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, the Supreme Court, the Catholic Church, and so on. In fact, virtually everything that comes out of this president’s mouth is about redirecting blame onto some straw man.

This is why Obama does not care if his attacks are unfair, untrue, unoriginal, unseemly, or whatever. He has only one goal: The state of the union stinks right now, and I must keep that stench off me.

And the MSM is happy to do its best to provide stories that do just that. Look, squirrel!

Related: Look! Neo-Nazis in Sanford, Florida! Or not. “Did anyone bother to contact the Sanford Police?  I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of Neo-Nazi groups patrolling in Sanford.”

Update: Mickey Kaus is on “Nameless Scapegoat Watch.”

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