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The Media News

NBC Apologizes For Editing Zimmerman 911 Call 1005

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that NBC has completed its investigation into the Today show's mishandling of the police dispatcher's conversation with George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case with a finding of error, plus an apology. The apology addresses the show's failure to accurately abridge the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher in this high-profile case. This is how the program portrayed a segment of that conversation: Zimmerman: 'This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black' Here what was actually said: 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.' In an appearance on Fox News's Hannity, Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, called this omission on the part of Today an 'all-out falsehood' — not just a distortion or misrepresentation. 'On the good front, [NBC] acknowledges the mistake and apologizes to viewers for the bad editing. It's a forthright correction and spares us any excuses about the faulty portrayal. On the bad front, the statement is skimpy on the details on just how the mistake unfolded,' writes Erik Wemple. 'In light of all that's happened, Zimmerman may be a tough person for a news network to apologize to, but that's just the point: Apologies are hard.'"
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NBC Apologizes For Editing Zimmerman 911 Call

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  • Error My Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:13PM (#39575227)

    Some stupid moron in the editing room or a producer did it on purpose. At least they didn't strap a bomb to him and blow him up like they did the cars.

    • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:34PM (#39575671) Homepage
      Someone blew up the Cars? Bummer. I loved that band.
    • Re:Error My Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:44PM (#39575881)

      It's pretty clear NBC and many other media outlets constructed a narrative almost from the get-go of what happened, long before they even heard Zimmerman's side of the story. All the evidence was made to fit that narrative, a series of people who knew nothing about the case were paraded out to express outrage, and they basically found him guilty in the court of public opinion without even holding a trial. To get their ratings, they put this guy's life (and the lives of his family) in danger and threw gasoline on the fire of racial tension that already exists around these cases.

      They should apologize for a LOT more than just a little selective editing of one tape.

    • Why National News? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grizzley9 ( 1407005 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @04:47PM (#39577041)
      Of course it was on purpose, from the very beginning it was meant to increase ratings. This is a local story, one you would find on many nightly news local stations. In what way is this a story deserving of national headlines? Why? Because they can make it such and inflame the viewership to create controversy which sells ratings. They are using the death of a teenager to increase ratings pure and simple.
    • Re:Error My Ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @05:20PM (#39577653) Homepage Journal

      It's confirmation bias. When something horrible like this happens, we want a reassuring explanation, and when we settle on one we filter the information we receive and *re-transmit* to shore up that explanation. This applies to people whether they're liberal or conservative.

      The thing about this phenomenon is that you don't need to *intend* to put your finger on the scales of truth to actually do it. Well meaning people twist the truth all the time.

  • by damien_kane ( 519267 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:18PM (#39575347)
    We apologise for the fault in the subtitles. Those responsible have been sacked.
  • by Freddybear ( 1805256 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:21PM (#39575413)

    That apology and a few million dollars should make the hurt feelings go away.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:21PM (#39575417) Journal

    It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

    Guilty guilty GUILTY! A thousand counts of guilty for ... um ... being bored in public? "I demanded he present his papers and pointed out that any self-respecting member of the proletariat would not lethargically meander about and instead optimize his steps in an effort to better serve his comrades."

    And NBC? Why, they were giving you the best news money can buy. You wanted George Zimmerman to be super guilty, super racist and super scumbag and that's what they kindly provided you. Your eyeballs and mouse clicks lead NBC to place money over justice or facts (the true Capitalists that we all are). SO either stop watching them or just forgive them for entertaining you a little too well. A young man was killed by some power-tripping neighborhood watch? We can easily incite a race war with our reporting, you say? NBC sees dollar signs! Just a touch of editing and ... look at those servers cook!

    Normally I would feel unqualified to make any comments on this case unfortunately it's unclear if this will ever be brought before an actual court so this might end up being the only thing done -- mock trials in the worst format of all: the 24 hour news cycle.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:41PM (#39575829)

      Guilty guilty GUILTY! A thousand counts of guilty for ... um ... being bored in public? "I demanded he present his papers and pointed out that any self-respecting member of the proletariat would not lethargically meander about and instead optimize his steps in an effort to better serve his comrades."

      I guess you live in one of those real gated communities (i.e. rich white suburbs too far from the bus stop for the lower class to get to) that never has to worry about burglaries. There is a reason why Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman - their neighborhood had been suffering many break-ins and was a high crime area. If you live in a high crime area and notice someone that doesn't live there is walking around from house to house in the daytime you'd be suspicious too.

  • This just goes to show you that Fox News is not the only one who will happily edit or take out of context something they feel will boost their ratings or meet their internal bias/views. It's why I've stopped watching/reading all mainstream news. I just occasionally glance at "smaller"news sites and browse /. (though most /. summaries also twist the facts to meet the submitter/editor's own bias/views, but the topics are generally more interesting to me.)

    Considering the weight we put on our Jury system, this kind of reporting should actually come with heavy penalties. AFAIK, Zimmerman has yet to go to trial (if ever), and reporting like this will only improperly skew the potential jury pool one way or another. And because many Americans still trust "news" (be it Fox News or NBC or CNN), they will take things like this as absolute fact; a correction never gets as much time or weight as the original story, so they're far more likely to miss that. This American Life's correction a few weeks back was the proper way to go about it, and that's likely a millennial event. And I'm too lazy to look it up, but a few months back there was a report on /. that even after someone is told that a previously stated "fact" was actually a mistake or outright lie, an alarming portion of people still hold the previous "mistruth" as fact.

    Furthermore, an incident like this actually helps Zimmerman--there's plenty of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to lob against this guy, so when you go out of your way to make up or twist such things it only lends credence to the idea that the guy isn't as bad as he seems.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:33PM (#39575643) Homepage
    dont exist to inform viewers of current events in a timely and accurate manner as part of their FCC mandate to offer the public a general good. Commercial television networks offer a news program to sell advertising air-time by finding stories and topics that revolve around easily exploitable human emotions. The abuse of context and deliberate indulgence with which networks engage in editorializing a story to the point of satire should be all the proof you need.

    This isnt an NBC, CNN, FOX or ABC problem, its a problem with formerly independent news sources suddenly being treated as some sort of cash-cow revenue component of a television stations earnings, instead of a service offered to people without cost, as the FCC license intended.

    get the sponsorship out of television news entirely. it should be unbiased objective reporting that sounds like C-SPAN and repeats itself every 30 minutes to an hour and holds itself accountable to some sort of law that requires truthfulness in journalism. The kind of standard that explicitly keeps fox out of canada.
  • by darth dickinson ( 169021 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:37PM (#39575725) Homepage

    This article refers to things that NBC decided, did, or said regarding their outrageous editing of George Zimmerman's 911 call.

    But NBC exists only in a legal sense. It has no brain. It makes no decisions. And it's really incapable of giving a rat's ass about criticisms it might receive from the right of the political spectrum.

    The things that NBC "says" or "does" are really said or done by the people who work, mostly anonymously, inside the protective bubble we refer to as NBC.

    We're not permitted to know which of those people made the "error" in question. But we know who is the one ultimately responsible for it.

    That would be Steve Capus, the president of NBC news. As the top guy, he is ultimately responsible for everything NBC "says" or "does".

    And now, Steve Capus is responsible for the whitewashing of this "error."

    Steve Capus must be held accountable for this travesty that happened on his watch. Steve Capus must step down as the president of NBC News.

    Every post about this issue should frame it as what it really is: Malicious malpractice, committed and covered up by Steve Capus.

  • Judicious Editing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNinjaroach ( 878876 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:39PM (#39575763)
    That's a very serious misrepresentation of the phone call. NBC obviously did this to rile up viewers and try to create the story (and central character) to be larger than life. Journalistic integrity at its worst.
    • by sloth jr ( 88200 )
      Absolutely right. NBC should aspire to be more than "Fox News for Liberals". It's a reprehensible edit.
  • by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2012 @03:49PM (#39575961)

    This wasn't a mistake, it was a deliberate misrepresentation on the behalf of whoever did the editing or ordered the editing done.

    When the corporation claims 'oops' when it is obviously deliberate, it leads to distrust. There most definitely should have been firings over this.

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