The PJ Tatler

Second Producer Fired in Zimmerman 911 Call Edit

Breitbart reports on the quiet firing of a second producer in its accidental, incidental, nothing to see here dishonest edit of George Zimmerman’s 911 call.

There has been a second firing at NBC over the misleading edit of George Zimmerman’s 911 call. A report published yesterday afternoon by the Miami Herald identifies reporter/producer Jeff Burnside as the individual responsible for the edits which appeared in an NBC6 news story on March 19th and again on March 20th.

Burnside worked for WTVJ news, the NBC owned and operated station in Miami where the edit appears to have originated. SFLTV blog confirms his firing but says it was not for the edit that appeared on the Today show, but a similar edit that appeared on WTVJ. So that makes two separate versions of the same “accidental” edit that NBC ran with this on the air.

Back to the Breitbart report:

Burnside’s social media accounts show he was heavily involved in the Trayvon Martin story beginning on March 19th. The next day he interviewed one of Zimmerman’s neighbors at the scene of the shooting. The story he wrote to accompany the interview (since corrected) is one of the two places the misleading edit appeared. In the original version Burnside quotes from the Zimmerman 911 call with a misleading ellipsis, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good…he looks black.” On March 22nd Burnside posted this photo of himself interviewing Al Sharpton who was in Florida for a Trayvon Martin rally. He also attended a rally with Ben Jealous of the NAACP.

The Sharpton connection is key. His status as major advocate in this story, and host on MSNBC, constitutes a glaring conflict of interest that taints the network up and down the line. NBC has failed to maintain editorial standards in dealing with this conflict. And even in the second firing, the network is unapologetic.

“The network is very sensitive about the whole Al Sharpton/MSNBC issue, so when the right-wing bloggers started hammering, they needed to throw them fresh meat,” said the station source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the controversy. “It’s not at all clear how this happened. Obviously, there was miscommunication.”

Actually, it’s pretty clear how this happened, creating the same bad edit that aired multiple times and ended up on the web, all within the same network. Burnside found himself in the middle of a career-making story, interviewing heavyweights like Sharpton for pieces that had the potential to go national and put him on the network honchos’ radar. He edited the Zimmerman 911 call to drive the narrative forward that Zimmerman racially profiled and then murdered Trayvon Martin. From there, it looks like NBC Today producers found Burnside’s edit too good to check, and aired it and slapped it on their web sites. The network’s editorial failure trickles all the way up to Today executive producer Jim Bell. NBC has only grudgingly taken any action in response to this, and still has not corrected its false Today show reports on the air. Corrections have been relegated to NBC’s web sites.To WTVJ’s credit, the station has aired a correction and publicly fired its big-name reporter.

But behind the scenes, it’s all the right-wing bloggers’ fault. For catching NBC red-handed.

Oh, one more thing, just for fun…

Burnside, 52, won several regional Emmy awards and was known for his investigative reports and coverage of environmental issues. Named “Top TV Reporter” by the New Times in 2007, he is on the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Anyone surprised that Burnside turns out to be as much an advocate as a journalist?