NYT: NBC fires producer of misleading Zimmerman tape

By WKTV News

MIAMI, Florida - According to the New York Times, NBC News has fired a producer who was involved in the production of a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

The firing took place on Thursday, but the name of the fired producer has not been released, the New York Times reports. NBC News declined to comment to the Times for the story.

The Times reports that the firing of the producer comes following an investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which they report strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin sound racially motivated. The shooting has sparked an ongoing debate about whether or not race was a factor in the February 26 incident.

The segment brought into question aired on the “Today” show on March 27, including audio of Zimmerman saying “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

However, the New York Times reports that Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. According to the report, on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “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.” The dispatcher then asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”

The editing of the piece was caught by “NewsBusters,” an arm of the Media Research Center, a conservative media monitoring group, the New York Times states, adding that on March 31, NBC told The Washington Post that it would investigate.

Reuters reported that “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.”

On April 4, the network news division said in a statement that it deeply regretted the “error made in the production process.”

“We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers,” the network said.

It did not specify what steps it would take, but the New York Times reports that one day later, NBC dismissed a Miami-based producer who had worked at NBC for several years. The Times report concludes, saying that people with direct knowledge of the firing characterized the misleading edit as a mistake, not a purposeful act.

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