NBC Fires Producer in Flap Over Manipulated 911 Call in Trayvon Martin Case

The controversy erupted after "Today" aired a segment that made shooter George Zimmerman sound as though he was racially profiling the 17-year-old black youth.

NBC News has fired the producer it deemed most responsible for the airing of a selectively edited 911 call placed by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin.

Sources at NBC who asked not to be identified confirmed a New York Times story saying that a Miami-based producer was fired Thursday, though the sources refused to identify the former employee.

The offending segment aired on NBC’s Today show March 27 but went widely unnoticed until it was highlighted by conservative outlets such as the Media Research Center and Breitbart.com.

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Two days after the Today gaffe, Sean Hannity ran a segment about NBC’s manipulation of the 911 call on his Fox News Channel show. The story went viral when the Drudge Report linked to a Hollywood Reporter story about the growing controversy last week.

In the original 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Martin as such: “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 asks: “OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?”

“He looks black,” Zimmerman responds.

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The version NBC ran, though, was much shorter and did not include the question posed by the 911 operator.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman is heard saying in NBC’s edited version.

The difference is significant, since activists have been claiming that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin. Critics have argued that NBC set out to purposely advance that narrative by condensing the 911 tape to make it appear that Zimmerman’s motivation for assuming Martin was “up to no good” was based on his skin color.

NBC announced Saturday that it had launched an investigation into the matter, and on Tuesday it apologized for its “error” and said it had completed its inquiry.

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

E-mail: Paul.Bond@thr.com