The network has launched an investigation into its use of an edited version of the 911 call by George Zimmerman that made it appear he shot Trayvon Martin because he was black.
The edited version of the now infamous 911 tape was aired on March 27 on the Today show. By editing out a few lines, Zimmerman is heard telling the 911 dispatcher that Martin was up to no good because he was black.
A statement was issued by NBC today to the Washington Post. The brief statement, quoted by Fox News, said, We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story.
The relevant portion of the transcript of the call is as follows:
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 black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
As reported by New York Magazine, much of what Zimmerman said in the above portion was omitted. More importantly, the dispatcher's question, asking Zimmerman the race of the other person, was also edited out of the tape. Viewers were then left with Zimmerman saying, This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.
By selective editing, NBC portrayed Zimmerman as a racist, connecting Martin being up to no good with his being black. The reality is Zimmerman only mentioned Martin's race in response to a direct question from the dispatcher.
Brent Bozell, the president of the Media Research Center, is quoted in the Washington Post saying the editing of the tape was an all-out falsehood - not just a distortion or a misrepresentation.Newsbusters, who first broke the story, also says MSNBC distorted the call in the same way in printed form, having Zimmerman volunteer the fact Martin was black after describing him as being up to no good. According to Newsbusters, although MSNBC changed its printed version, neither MSNBC nor NBC ever offered a retraction or apologized.
NBC only took action when the Washington Post became involved and the network wrote the newspaper advising they were beginning an internal investigation.