The Upshot

NBC fires producer over edited Zimmerman 911 call

The Upshot

A producer for NBC News has been fired for editing a recording of George Zimmerman's call to police the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

The New York Times is reporting that "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."

The dismissal of the Miami-based producer, whose name has not been publicized, followed an internal investigation by NBC, which led to the network apologizing earlier this week for having aired the deceptive audio.

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This photo combo shows George Zimmerman. At left is a 2005 booking photo provided by the Orange County Jail via …

The recording aired on NBC's "Today" show on March 27, when the audio viewers heard suggested that Zimmerman volunteered to police, without provocation, that Martin was black: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."

But the tape had been edited, and the portion where the 911 dispatcher specifically asks Zimmerman if the person in question was "black, white or Hispanic," was deleted.

The conversation that actually occurred between the dispatcher and Zimmerman is as follows:

"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?" To which Zimmerman replied, "He looks black."

After that phone call on the night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. The 17-year-old Martin was unarmed, and Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., told police he fired in self-defense after Martin attacked him.

[Related: Did Zimmerman say 'punks' or racial slur in 911 recording? ]

Since then, it has been debated if Zimmerman was racially profiling the teenager, a notion the edited version of the tape reinforces.

The Times reports that NewsBusters, a conservative media monitoring group, first reported NBC's discrepancy on March 30. The following day, NBC told The Washington Post that it would investigate. On Tuesday, NBC said in a statement that its investigation turned up "an error made in the production process that we deeply regret." The network promised that "necessary steps" would be taken "to prevent this from happening in the future" and NBC apologized to viewers.

No steps were specified, but the New York Times reports that the next day "a Miami-based producer who had worked at NBC for several years" was fired, and "people with direct knowledge of the firing characterized the misleading edit as a mistake, not a purposeful act."

[Related: George Zimmerman video shows injury to back of his head ]

On Thursday, Reuters cited an unnamed NBC executive saying "The "Today" show's editorial control policies -- which include a script editor, senior producer oversight, and in most cases legal and standards department reviews of material to be broadcast -- missed the selective editing of the call."

Staff members at NBC News, who had been working on the Trayvon Martin story for weeks in Florida, were initially "in shock" over the altered tape, and later furious, another source told Reuters.

Reuters also reports that "NBC News executives interviewed more than half a dozen employees during their investigation."

On Saturday, the "Today" portion of MSNBC's Web site posted a Reuter's story on the producer's firing.

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