Trayvon Martin 911 Call Controversy: NBC Apologizes For Editing George Zimmerman Recording

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A version of the 911 tape of George Zimmerman reporting suspicious behavior by Trayvon Martin before killing him was edited, NBC admitted this week.
George Zimmerman Picture

It wasn't doctored - his words were left intact - but it's what we didn’t hear that sheds light on the ultimately fatal Martin-Zimmerman confrontation.

On March 27, NBC’s Today Show aired Zimmerman’s call to the police, featuring these words: “This guy looks like he's up to no good … he looks black.”

The recording went viral, no doubt shaping public bias against Zimmerman. But it turns out Today shortened, and thus altered the meaning of, the call:

Here is the fuller version of the recording:

    Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or like he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."
    911 dispatcher: "OK, and this guy ... is he black, white or Hispanic?"
    Zimmerman: [pauses] "He looks black."

George Zimmerman’s actions February 26 remain dubious, and may still lead to criminal charges. Edited or not, the call still obviously shows he was told not to follow Martin that night, and his self-defense claim is highly questionable.

But, right now, he has not been charged.

Moreover, his description of Martin came only in response to a dispatcher's question. Was this racial profiling? Maybe. But the media dropped the ball.

Earlier this week, the network revealed its blunder.

"During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret," said the network. "We will take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers."

The circumstances surrounding this divisive episode are undeniably complex. NBC's error will hopefully cause others to reflect on the extent to which the media and public pre-judge the Trayvon Martin case, which is still under investigation.

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