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NBC apologizes for making Zimmerman sound racist in edited Trayvon clip

Published time: April 04, 2012 18:35
Edited time: April 04, 2012 22:35
Trayvon Martin supporters march through the historically African American community of Goldsboro on their way to an NAACP rally in front of the Sanford Police Department on March 31, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Trayvon Martin supporters march through the historically African American community of Goldsboro on their way to an NAACP rally in front of the Sanford Police Department on March 31, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

The NBC network has apologized after it was revealed that they doctored a 911 call made by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin that some say depicts him as racist. In apologizing, NBC calls the gaffe a production error.

NBC came under fire after it was made clear that the network edited the February 26 phone call that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch member and confessed killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, placed with Sanford, Florida police. When NBC broadcast a recording of the phone call recently on their Today morning program, the network spliced Zimmerman’s statements to the emergency dispatcher, which has some saying the mainstream media did it on purpose as to peg the shooter as racist.

When Zimmerman called the cops to report Martin as a suspicious person while the teenager walked to his father’s home in a gated Florida community, the watchman told authorities, “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 responded by asking, “OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?”

Zimmerman replied, “He looks black.”

When NBC aired the dialogue, however, the network neglected to take the conversation into its full context. Instead, the quote from Zimmerman that aired was an abbreviated account that did not take into consideration the 911 operator’s questioning. On the Today segment, NBC reported Zimmerman to only have said, “This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.”

As it became evident that NBC snipped the clip for broadcast, the company came under scrutiny for going out of their way to portray Zimmerman as racist. In finally apologizing, the network says they are sorry for the mistake but does not own up to the incident. Instead, rather, NBC described the glitch as a production error and offers little insight into how the mistake actually made it to broadcast.

"During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret," reads a statement from NBC sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. "We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers."

The Hollywood Reporter followed up by asking if NBC had reprimanded those responsible for the glitch, to which they report the network replied, "We will not be commenting on our course of action."

Speaking to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, former CBS News staffer Bernie Goldberg said on Monday that NBC no doubt was in the wrong in their decision to broadcast what they did. The former anchor condemned NBC for hesitating to launch an investigation of their own and instead implied that the network was only looking out for ratings.

“I think they've got a bunch of PR people around a big table trying to come up with a way to spin this to the public and do the least damage to NBC News,” said Goldberg.