NBC News has fired a producer who was involved in the production of a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.
The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.
The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “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.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”
NBC continues to insist that the edit was a “mistake.” As I’ve written before, that is highly implausible.
NBC has also failed to apologize to the one person most directly impacted by its deception:
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.
The network owes an apology, at least, to George Zimmerman.
NBC isn’t the only network to have committed deceit with regard to the Zimmerman/Martin shooting. CNN aired the word of a supposed audio expert who was sure that Zimmerman had uttered a racial slur during that same 911 call that NBC edited, only to reverse that and now say that Zimmerman probably said a much milder, and race neutral, word. ABC posted video of Zimmerman on the night of the shooting that was captured at the police station in Sanford, FL, and ABC built a story around the apparent lack of wounds on Zimmerman’s head in the video. ABC later had to reverse that, when a clearer version of the video showed strong evidence of at least two bloody gashes on Zimmerman’s head, which were consistent with his statement that Trayvon Martin had attacked him on the night of the shooting. And the New York Times invented a new racial category, “white Hispanic,” to describe Zimmerman in its stories about the shooting.