UPDATE: NBC Fires Producer For Misleading Edit Of Zimmerman 911 Call

FRIDAY: When you want to release bad news, everyone knows you do it on a Friday night. The New York Times is citing sources tonight that, not surprisingly, NBC News ended its internal investigation by firing the still unnamed “seasoned” producer deemed responsible. The dismissal reportedly took place on Thursday with no public announcement.

THURSDAY: An NBC News probe found that a “seasoned” producer was responsible for a misleadingly edited clip of the 911 call the network broadcast during coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting, network sources told Reuters. More than half a dozen news staff were interviewed for the network’s internal investigation. The edited version of the 911 call placed by George Zimmerman just before he shot Trayvon Martin made it appear Zimmerman immediately told police Martin was black, but the full recording reveals that the neighborhood watch captain mentioned the teen’s race only when responding to a question posed by the dispatcher. Network sources did not indicate whether the producer or other staff would be subject to disciplinary action. NBC has apologized for the incident but said it would not release names of employees involved. Execs have vowed to take rigorous steps to formalize news division standards following the incident.

Comments (91)

  • Anyone fresh out of J-school would have known the proper way to handle it. The “seasoned” producer most likely did it on purpose because the unedited version did not fit the narrative. That person should get together with the NY Times reporter who referred to Zimmerman as a “white hispanic” because, that too did not fit the narrative wanted. The two of them can talk about the old fogies who are obsessed about accuracy instead of ratings.

    Comment by Andy — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 8:10pm PDT  
    • I’m a veteran television news producer. I can say with near-certainty the soundbite was edited for time, not content.

      This is done so that the show is faster-paced, more entertaining, and yes, so it can accommodate more commercials.

      In the process meanings can get distorted. Unfortunately, in this case, the distortion was grave.

      Comment by newsperson — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 10:49am PDT  
      • >>I’m a veteran television news producer. I can say with near-certainty the soundbite was edited for time, not content. <<

        Riiight, so it was just a coincidence, just bad luck. Sure thing. Rearrange those words for time, and you never know what you're going to get. We all believe that, don't we, people?

        Comment by Was Not Was — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 9:22pm PDT  
        • Hey, if NBC news says it was “edited for time,” I guess we just have to believe it.

          Comment by zangadoo — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 9:54am PDT  
      • I don’t know about ‘seasoned’ but if you are a professional journalist you do not edit in a way that leads people to believe something that is not true. As much as time may be a factor you still make certain that you are delivering truthful information or you don’t use the clip at all.

        Comment by Ellie — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 5:34am PDT  
      • And here’s my edit of newsperson’s comment. Edited for brevity, of course:

        “I’m a veteran television news producer. And I can say with certainty that soundbite was edited for content.

        “This is done so that the meanings can get distorted.”

        Concise enough, newsperson?

        I was only editing to make things shorter. Time limitations & all that. Yup.

        Comment by sam — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:05am PDT  
        • That totally meaningless. I’ll take all the words in your post and find them in a copy of War and Piece. Then I’ll accuse you of writing a novel.

          Comment by JJ — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 1:06pm PDT  
      • I must wonder how you could possibly think that you know the reason or motivation behind this seemingly malevolent editing? Seems like you are merely helping to close ranks in order to cover an evil choice by a fellow editor. Simply put, you do not know any more about this than anyone else does, except maybe, the people who investigated this wrong doing and resultantly fired this unidentified malevolent person who has participated in fueling the nation’s unrest over a perceived racial wrong. I believe in the First Amendment, but this unidentified person’s actions seem to be very close to yelling ‘FIRE’ in a crowed theater. I hope that Mr. Zimmerman and others who have been so drastically effected by this misuse of the power of the press will sue both the network and this person whom they are continuing to hide by not making his/her name public. His/her name is News too.

        Comment by Leon Yancey — Sunday April 8, 2012 @ 5:15pm PDT  
      • “the soundbite was edited for time, not content”.

        You are correct, except the time that was cut was the same time you saved.. Hmmmmmm now how was the selection made to keep which peice when the time was equal??????/ I will join the law suit…

        Comment by John Whitehurst — Wednesday April 11, 2012 @ 6:06am PDT  
      • So the extra 4 seconds that was edited out will now cost them millions and at least 3 their jobs. Sorry, I don’t buy the “edited for time” excuse.

        Comment by Edit this for time — Monday July 15, 2013 @ 6:24pm PDT  
    • Couldn’t be more right Andy. And there should be no surprises here… the news has left the school of ‘journalism’ because it’s need to compete with the sensationalist aspects of reality TV. Whoever this is that made the call is a TV “producer”… not a journalist exercising any kind of ethics or responsibility to the facts. He/she did what dozens of others do in their position – crank out TV.

      Comment by J.R. — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 11:18am PDT  
      • I agree. It’s kind of sad that the Today show continually gives valuable airtime to the Kardashian’s, unemployed “actress” Lindsay Lohan and Snooki. These losers do not qualify as news or entertainment.

        The 24/7/365 cable TV news cycle and a rush to beat the Internet websites to the story is also a reason that the accuracy of the story is the last thing on the producers mind.

        Comment by B.S. — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:42am PDT  
  • Although not as serious as NBC’s sketchy editing, The View this week gave their take on the shooting as they weren’t on the air when the whole thing blew up in the media: so, well after the fact, which outdated photos of both individuals do they prominently display?

    What the hell Barbara,dig a bit deeper and show us both men as they actually look now. The whole thing still stinks but a bit of fact-checking and journalistic integrity will serve this sad story much better in the long run.

    Comment by aloy — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 8:43pm PDT  
    • 17 years old is not a “man” and Trayvon is no longer with us– there is no picture of him that will show him as he “actually looks now.” No one is objective on this story– they latch on to the parts that support their preconceived ideas about the case and ignore the ones that don’t fit.

      Comment by molly — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 4:34am PDT  
      • Was there a printing on the back of Trayvon Martin’s hoodie that said, “I’m 17 years old?” Martin was at least 6′, so it’s reasonable to assume that as far as Zimmerman could tell, Trayvon Martin was an adult well into his 20′s, 30′s or older.

        Stop hating on the Hispanics.

        Comment by justthefacts — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:38am PDT  
  • With everything swirling around this tragic event, to try and twist the facts is borderline evil.

    NBC was caught on this one; imagine how many other stories they have twisted. This is the most irresponsible thing that could be done in journalism… and to do it on a powder keg issue?!?!

    It’s amazing how the media can mishape public opinion and not be held accountable.

    Comment by Izzy — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 9:11pm PDT  
    • Absolutely correct. NBC and the Today Show playing fast and loose with the “facts” goes at least as far back as the Kennedy assasination.

      Comment by Phil — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 10:48am PDT  
      • Matt Lauer is to busy interviewing Octomom to notice that legitimate news stories have more holes than the Swiss cheese in Rosie O’Donnell’s fridge.

        Comment by B.S. — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:44am PDT  
      • Care to elaborate on NBC’s coverage of the Kennedy assassination?

        Comment by Johnny Ringo — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 2:13pm PDT  
  • Oh the irony is thick. An NBC Sr employee engages in blatant conduct to create a different narrative to the truth, one that could incite more hate and violence, and distorts the words of man who’s yet to be charged with a crime, and that staffer’s right to privacy is respected?

    Comment by Nico Rosberg — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 9:28pm PDT  
    • NBC News is as vapid as the NBC entertainment side.

      “Must Watch TV”? Not anymore.

      Comment by savvydude — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:59am PDT  
  • Waiting for David Gregory to apologize for saying, with certainty, that Zimmermann had uttered a racial epithet when instead he was talking about the weather.

    Comment by NBC blues — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 10:13pm PDT  
    • Still waiting for Tom Brokaw to apologize for saying, with certainty, that Richard Jewell was the Atlanta Bomber!

      Comment by truthplez — Sunday April 8, 2012 @ 10:58am PDT  
  • Who give a crap! If this kid had blonde hair and blue eyes the shooter would be on death row by now.

    Comment by We — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 10:13pm PDT  
    • Actually, it would have never gotten beyond the local news.

      Comment by Was Not Was — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 9:27pm PDT  
    • If this kid had blonde hair and blue eyes the “neighborhood watch” wouldn’t have been watching him in the first place.

      Comment by Phil — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 7:58am PDT  
    • True…
      Not to mention, they said he never mentioned the race of who he was following until asked… And out of seven calls they got, how many times did the people he followed turn out to be black? A question that hasn’t been followed up on. If it’s seven of seven or five of seven, does it matter if he waited till they asked him? If it’s just the three times, maybe he has some (though totally irrelevant) defence. NEIGHBOORHOOD WATCH SHOULD NOT CARRY GUNS! Open and shut!

      Comment by JJ — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 1:04pm PDT  
  • That person needs to be fired. Immediately.

    Comment by Can him! — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 10:15pm PDT  
    • They fired her from their Miami bureau yesterday…

      Comment by Jesse — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 7:41am PDT  
  • At what point does ‘freedom of the press’ transition to ‘slander’?

    Comment by Hussman — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 10:17pm PDT  
    • Whenever you turn on FOX.

      Comment by Che — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 6:27pm PDT  
      • It was Fox that caught NBC in the slander not the other way around.

        Comment by Phil — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 8:01am PDT  
  • Why was this such a prolonged mystery? It’s not as if broadcast audio is edited accidentally in a network newsroom— only a few people do it, and they hardly creep around in the shadows anonymously. It’s pretty clear NBC has no interest in firing a liar running amok in their news dept.

    Comment by zimbaloo — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 11:52pm PDT  
  • i hope zimmerman sues NBC.

    Comment by john marzan — Friday April 6, 2012 @ 12:44am PDT  
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