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NBC News acknowledged on Thursday that it has fired a local Miami reporter for editing a 911 call placed by George Zimmerman. Earlier this month, the network’s Today show fired an employee for a similar incident involving an edit of the call.
As in the case of the Today show, an NBC News spokeswoman refused to name the Miami NBC6 reporter who was fired, but the Miami Herald identified him as Jeff Burnside, an environmental journalist who has won several regional Emmy awards.
NBC News has been excoriated in the conservative press for several weeks since Today and other of the network’s outlets replayed on multiple occasions a version of Zimmerman’s 911 call on the night he killed Trayvon Martin in which he says, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
In the actual call, though, Zimmerman doesn’t mention Martin’s race until the 911 dispatcher asks: “Is he white, black or Hispanic?”
The distinction is important, say NBC’s critics, because the doctored audio infers that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin the night he shot him.
An early explanation from NBC News that the edits were made to save time attracted further criticism when bloggers noted that even on Web sites where stories appeared in print, NBC sometimes cut out the dispatcher’s question and instead used ellipsis.
Bloggers have been pushing NBC News to name the fired employee responsible for the Today show gaffe, but the network has resisted. Bloggers have also called for the resignation of NBC News president Steve Capus.
Leading the charge in that regard is Breitbart.com, where an editor wrote: “Capus stands by his ridiculous assertion that the edit was a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call. Does that sound to you like someone who is the arbiter of issues involving ethics and standards? Or does that sound more like someone involved in a cover up?”
NBC News had no comment for this report.
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