The New York Post reports that George Zimmerman is suing NBC News for their use of a deceptively edited tape, which made it sound like Zimmerman was obsessed with Martin???s race, by omitting the 911 dispatcher specifically asking him if Martin was ???white, black, or Hispanic.??? The actual exchange went like this:
ZIMMERMAN: 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.
DISPATCHER: OK, and this guy ??? is he white, black, or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
The line from the dispatcher was surgically removed, producing a highly deceptive cut that made it onto the national broadcast, local broadcasts, and even a printed transcript on the MSNBC website. Somehow this little snafu slipped past multiple layers of editorial control. NBC never came clean about who was responsible, initially ???settling??? the matter after an internal investigation by ostensibly firing a producer they refused to name.
Later, after an uproar about the inadequacy of this response, NBC sacked two Miami-based reporters, Jeff Burnside and Lilia Luciano. Oddly enough, the doctored tapes used by Burnside and Luciano were slightly different than the one used by the national network. Luciano???s was much more extensively doctored ??? it actually brought in words from much later in the conversation, to build an entirely fraudulent quote that went, ???This guy looks like he???s up to no good or on drugs or something. He???s got his hand in his waistband. And he???s a black male.???
Zimmerman???s suit reportedly names NBC News President Steve Capus and Today reporter Ron Allen, who also handled the report for the NBC Nightly News. A source told the New York Post, ???The suit will be filed imminently against NBC and its news executives. The network???s legal department has put everybody in the news department involved with this incident on notice, telling them not to comment.???
The public has never received anything close to a full accounting for how this happened, who made the decision to edit the tape, or what motivated them. Hopefully Zimmerman’s suit will shed some light on these issues, and perhaps restore some integrity to NBC, perhaps at the cost of a few more non-anonymous firings.