News24

NBC fires producer over Trayvon Martin

2012-04-07 22:30

New York - NBC News has fired a producer following a probe into its broadcasting of a misleading edit of an audio clip of a 911 emergency response call during coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting, two sources at the network said.

The producer, who was not identified by the sources, is Miami-based. NBC News declined to comment when asked about the dismissal, which the sources said took place on Thursday.

Reuters had previously reported that the "seasoned" producer was at the centre of the probe.

NBC News executives interviewed more than half a dozen employees during their investigation of the network's editing of the tape of the 911 call placed by George Zimmerman before he shot the unarmed Florida teenager, sources at the network had said on Thursday.

The edit made it appear as though Zimmerman told police that Martin was black without being prompted, when, in fact, the full tape reveals that the neighbourhood watch captain only did so when responding to a question asked by the dispatcher.

Public pressure

The clip aired on the network's flagship Today morning show last week.

Public pressure has been building on the network to fully explain the incident - which critics charge has inflamed racial tensions in an already volatile situation.

On Thursday, a New York Post editorial characterised the edited 911 call as "pretty damning evidence of wilful misconduct by NBC News" and suggested that racial violence could ensue over irresponsible news coverage.

Sources at the network said on Thursday that NBC News executives did not know the 911 call was misleadingly edited until news reports surfaced days later on right-leaning blogs including Newsbusters.org and Breitbart.com.

NBC News has apologised for the incident.

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, said an NBC executive.

The network's executives have vowed to take rigorous steps to formalise editorial safeguards in the news division following the incident, one source at NBC said on Thursday.

News of the firing - which was reported by The New York Times late on Friday - surprised and dismayed some NBC News employees involved in the network's ongoing coverage of the case, according to two sources, who said the producer was highly regarded within the organisation.

Comments
  • kafantaris2 - 2012-04-08 00:48

    It is time that we look at the Trayvon Martin killing for what it is -- a criminal homicide, only incidental to race. One cannot draw a much different conclusion by listening to the cries for help heard in the recorded 911 calls. Even without them, however, it seems improbable that a confident, stocky-build man, with a gun in his holster, would need to beg for help -- notwithstanding the claims of Zimmerman, his father and his brother. Our understanding of human nature and common sense tells us that such cries would come from someone who is severely threatened and acutely aware of his imminent death. Any doubts of this are removed by merely listening to those multiple “help, help” pleas loud enough to be picked up during the 911calls. Aside from their heart-wrenching intensity, we also note that these cries go on for over a minute. Was Zimmerman telling Martin during that time that he was about to pull the trigger? Why else would Martin need to plead for help with such desperation? If Zimmerman was threatening to shoot Martin in those two minutes before we hear the shot, what we have then is a cold blooded murder – and by one clever enough to now use our racial divide to get away with it. We should see through this tactic and not let him do so. Not only because such defense would further divide us, but also because an unrepentant criminal would get away with murder.

      Smell - 2012-04-08 04:03

      I am not a friend of either the gun culture in the US or tthe stand-your-ground law in Florida. But you are making huge assumptions on information that has not yet seen the spotlight of a fair judicial process. Hold your horses and let us comment on the verdict. A reporter has just been fired from NBC for tampering with the 911 tape in a way that unfairly presented Zimmerman in a worse light.

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