Media Watch: The Sharyl Attkisson approach
The NYT’s Media Decoder blog reports that an unnamed NBC producer has been fired over the now-infamous 911 call edit aired on the Today show in which it sounded like George Zimmerman brought up Trayvon Martin’s race without prompting from the 911 dispatcher (via Memeorandum):
NBC News has fired a producer who was involved in the production of a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.
The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.
The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. 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.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”
The people with direct knowledge of the firing characterized the misleading edit as a mistake, not a purposeful act.
Which is complete and utter bull sh*t. Anyone who believes this edit wasn’t a deliberate and malicious attempt to continue to maintain the national media-driven narrative that George Zimmerman was a demented racist who set out to kill a black teen that night probably has already fallen for said narrative, and won’t let a little thing like the facts get in the way of their good ol’ righteous rants.
As to the producer’s name? Odd that NBC won’t name the person in the interest of full disclosure, but Pajamas Media’s Bryan Preston thinks he knows who it is:
Today‘s latest statement indicates that a “seasoned producer” was involved. A “seasoned producer” knows what they are doing, or should, and does not make an embarrassing “mistake” like the Zimmerman edit. Whoever this “seasoned producer” is, nothing gets on the air on a show like Today without the show’s executive producer’s approval. The executive producer of the Today show is Jim Bell. His bio describes him as a “hands on producer.” The 44-year-old Bell also fits the description of a “seasoned producer.”
Bell’s show helped contribute to the racial tensions that have followed the Zimmerman/Martin shooting. George Zimmerman’s entire family is now living in hiding, and they have been subjected to thousands of death threats. NBC’s Jim Bell is responsible for the content that airs on the show that he executive produces.
NBC must come clean. Who else was involved in this deception, and what does the network intend to do to try to win back some measure of the public’s trust? Hollow apologies and false claims that “mistakes were made” would not be acceptable to NBC in any investigative journalism it produces, and it will not suffice in this case.
After selectively editing George Zimmerman to look racist in front of the entire country, and then following that abomination up with a whitewash investigation, NBC News is now reporting that over seven calls to police George Zimmerman made between August 2011 and February 2012, there was no racism:
In the seven phone calls that George Zimmerman made to the Sanford, Fla., non-emergency police line between August 2011 and February 2012, he never mentioned the race of a person he deemed suspicious before he was asked.
According to the report by NBC News, the volunteer neighborhood watchman sounded calm on the phone when he described the men.
NBC News adds:
Zimmerman mentioned race only when the dispatcher asked him to specify, a fact that could bode well for the 28-year-old who has come under fire for shooting the unarmed black teenager in his gated community.
Gee, ya’ think, employer of Al Sharpton?
The release of this new information does invite a question or two: Will this story lead all the NBC News broadcasts? Will this new information get as much play and viral-osity in the rest of the corrupt media as did the maliciously edited 911 tape created by a “senior” producer who will not be named and who still has a job?
The answer is, of course, no. This story didn’t lead any nightly news broadcasts, nor will it. And thank you SO MUCH to NBC for noting in those calls that Zimmerman mentioned race “only when asked” – WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HE DID ON THE 911 CALL HE MADE ON FEB. 26th ABOUT TRAYVON MARTIN. How nice of them to walk back a key fact of this case that they DELIBERATELY distorted to begin with!
And as I noted yesterday, CNN is also walking back their initial claims about George Zimmerman saying “f—king coons” on that same call, although – like Tom Maguire – I’ll give them a heck of a lot more credit for their research on the 911 call than I will NBC, because NBC’s edit was deliberate. CNN has done a series of analyses of the call and has helped to create reasonable doubt on the issue of “was this a hate crime?”. Maguire correctly points out:
The inestimable Prof. Jacobson reprises the evolution of the CNN coverage of George Zimmerman’s mumbled words on his famous 911 call. Did he say “Effing c**ns? “Effing cold”? “Phones”? “Punks”? Oh, brother.
As to why we care, back in the day the left was giddy at the possibility that Zimmerman had been recorded uttering a racial epithet because it opened the door to a Federal hate crimes investigation.
As Bill Jacobson points out, CNN has scotched that strategy by bringing out a new expert every few days with yet another interpretation of Zimmerman’s words. At this point not even Eric Holder could keep a straight face while announcing that FBI experts had authoritatively concluded that Zimmerman had said “effing c**ns”. Given the confusion created by the CNN audio experts, Mr. Holder would not diminish his (in)credibility if he reported that the FBI enhancement showed Zimmerman saying “Obama Twenty Twelve”.
However, I differ vigorously with the Prof’s headline, to wit, “CNN proves “beyond a reasonable doubt” why cases should not be tried in the media“.
CNN has proved why judges and the state do not want cases tried in the media. In an earlier day, the FBI experts would make their pronouncements, the rest of us would nod agreeably, and off to trial Zimmerman would go, if Eric Holder at al so decided.
With CNN’s democratization of expertise we all know that any FBI assertion of a decisive result is absurd. In the ongoing zero-sum struggle between prosecutors and defendants, this is a win for defendants. And in the ongoing balancing act between The People and The Power, this is a win for the people.
All that being said, I’m still waiting for ABC News to address the very serious issue of journalistic malpractice as has been repeatedly displayed by Matt Gutman, who has been their lead reporter on all things Trayvon Martin. I’ve noted that his Twitter page is not as active and sensationalistic as it once was in the opening two weeks or so of national MSM coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, when he was claiming George Zimmerman “”stalked, cornered, and killed” Trayvon Martin “because he was black & wearing a hoodie.” Perhaps ABC News has asked him to lay low, and is hoping people will forget.