NEW YORK CITY - NBC News reportedly has dismissed a producer for the misleading editing of an audio clip from the 911 audio of George Zimmermann’s call on the night that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. The edited clip was used while covering the incident, according to 2 sources at the network with first hand knowledge of the situation. No one was authorized to talk about the matter publicly and talked only on the provision of anonymity.
The producer was not identified by the sources but was verified as being Miami-based. When asked for comment NBC News refused to speak on the firing which the sources stated happened Thursday.
The producer’s firing came after an internal probe that led to NBC having to apologize for airing the disingenuous audio. Reuters had reported previously in the week that the producer who was “seasoned” was at the center of the investigation.
News executives at NBC interviewed approximately six employees during the probe of the editing of the 911 call sources at the network had said on Thursday.
The edit makes it seem as if Zimmerman told police that Martin was black without being asked when the full tape shows that Zimmerman only did so after a question asked by dispatch. This led to questions arising over Zimmerman profiling the teen due to his race, a hypothesis the edited edition of the tape appeared to maintain.
The edited clip was first aired on March 27 on the network’s morning show “Today”. The network has been pressured by the public to explain fully the incident – which critics charged had inflamed the racial tension in a situation that was already volatile.
On Tuesday April 2, NBC stated that its probe had turned up an error that happened during production that “we deeply regret”. The network promised they were taking the needed steps to stop this from occurring in the future and apologized to its viewers.
On Thursday, an editorial in the New York Post described this version that was edited as being “pretty damning evidence of willful misconduct by NBC News” and further suggested that news coverage that is irresponsible could lead to racial violence.
Network sources stated on Thursday NBC executives didn’t know about the edited clip until reports surfaced days later on the right wing blogs including Breitbart.com and Newsbusters.org.
One source at NBC stated that the network’s news executives vowed on Thursday to take all steps necessary to formalize any safeguards editorially in the news department so that incidents such as this do not happen again.
The New York Times reported late on Friday, April 6 news of the firing – not only surprised NBC news employees but dismayed many of those involved in the network’s continuing reporting of the case. Two sources said that the fired producer was held in high regards within the NBC organization.
This just adds to a news story that has already dominated the news networks for the last several weeks and has raised tensions again in the ongoing nationwide uproar over race and justice which many had hoped the country had somehow gotten past.
Zimmerman told police he fired in self-defense after Martin attacked him and Martin’s family is demanding that Zimmerman be arrested for shooting the unarmed teenager who was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s house in the gated community after a walk to the convenience store. The incident occurred in Stanford, Florida on February 26.
NBC is owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.