3 lose NBC jobs for editing Zimmerman's 911 call
Deleted part of a conversation where a police dispatcher asked about the race of a suspicious male being reported
By David Bauder
AP Television Writer
NEW YORK — Three employees of NBC or an NBC-owned television station have now lost their jobs because of editing changes to a call made to police by George Zimmerman on the night he shot Trayvon Martin.
Lilia Luciano, an NBC News correspondent based in Miami, is no longer working at the network, spokeswoman Amy Lynn said. Her departure came as a result of an investigation into her March 20 "Today" show report on the Martin case.
Each of the reports on either "Today" or NBC's Miami station WTVJ involve editing of Zimmerman's phone call to a dispatcher that emphasizes his identification of Martin as a black male. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Martin, a case that has increased racial tensions.
In the report involving Luciano, audio of the police phone call was edited to insert a reference to Martin's race that had been made later in the conversation.
Last month, an NBC News producer was fired in connection with a March 27 "Today" show report where a tape of the call was edited to suggest that Zimmerman volunteered to police that "this guy looks like he's up to no good. He's black."
The broadcast portion of the audio had deleted a part of the conversation where the police dispatcher asked Zimmerman about whether a suspicious male he was reporting was "black, white or Hispanic." Zimmerman answered, "he looks black."
Lynn said Friday that NBC News' investigation into the reports has ended.
In an investigation about a separate incident, reporter Jeff Burnside of WTVJ lost his job because of a March 19 report on the dispatcher's call that similarly edited out the dispatcher's question that prompted Zimmerman's characterization of Martin as black, said Matt Glassman, spokesman for the NBC-owned station.
The WTVJ report did not air on any other NBC stations, he said.
Last week, WTVJ aired an apology to its viewers for the report on some of its newscasts, and posted it on the station's website. The statement said that "an error in editorial judgment was made in which a question from the operator was deleted which could have created the impression that Mr. Zimmerman's statement may have been singling out Trayvon Martin because of his race.
"We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers," WTVJ said. "After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this does not happen again."
NBC News did not immediately respond to questions about whether the "Today" show has addressed the misleading reports on the air, or whether there are any plans to do so.
Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog the Media Research Center, said NBC still has not come clean.
"The truth has been withheld from NBC's own viewers now for more than one month," he said. "Do the network executives at NBC think that this is acceptable?"
Copyright 2012 Associated Press