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NBC News President: Network Should 'Probably' Apologize On-Air for Repeatedly Running Fake Zimmerman Clip

Matthew Sheffield's picture

It's been several weeks since NBC disgraced itself by repeatedly airing doctored audio of George Zimmerman talking to a 9-1-1 dispatcher but the network has yet to apologize on the air, hoping instead that its paltry efforts of firing a lone producer and conducting an investigation into the matter but not releasing a report to the public would be sufficient.

Incredibly, it was a New York Times columnist, David Carr, who decided to confront the network on how that just isn't enough. NBC News president Steve Capus admitted his efforts have been insufficient but tried to spin away why his network hasn't bothered to tell viewers about its propagation of fraudulent journalism.

Carr hit the nail on the head about how television news, in this case, NBC almost never corrects previous on-air mistakes during air time:

What is it with television news and corrections? When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves. But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads. NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place. [...]

Clearly, broadcast news time is precious and it would be impractical to correct every small error. But this was no misdemeanor. This was a deeply misleading compression in editing about an event that has taken on national significance.

Somewhere in the four expansive hours of “Today” — perhaps between the segment about a loud peacock that was bothering neighbors and the preview of Eva Longoria’s show about “hunky bachelors” — somebody could have looked into the camera and set the story straight.

With that correct attitude in mind, Carr approached Capus to ask why nothing had been done on the air. Capus acknowledged that he was "probably right" but didn't seem too enthused about sparing a few seconds to help correct the record, especially for those viewers who aren't following the media industry or political blogs, i.e. the vast majority of "Today" watchers.

“The reality is that we didn’t try to hide from it,” the oleagenous NBC president is quoted as saying. “We did an awful lot of work after it happened. We did an exhaustive investigation, I did interviews with a lot of publications to get the message out, but we probably should have done it on our own air.”

Supposedly, according to Capus, the peacock network was so busy trying to get to the bottom of things it never bothered to tell viewers. In all likelihood, that process was too "self-reflective," Capus told Carr.

If Capus really believes that, why not take the time tomorrow to get "Today" and "NBC Nightly News" to apologize to its viewers to tell the truth about the disgraceful edit? How about releasing that report about how a fraudulently edited audio segment got aired repeatedly on television?

Yes, that's right. NBC didn't air fake audio of George Zimmerman just once on the air. It did so on five separate occasions.

While most of the attention has been given to the "Today" show airing the spliced clip on March 20th, that wasn't the only day that NBC aired misleading audio of Zimmerman's conversation. There were five separate instances—two using the formulation "this guy looks like he's up to no good. [...] he looks black” and three juxtaposing "up to no good" with Zimmerman's "he's a black male" comment from later in the conversation. The instances are below (thanks to NB's Rich Noyes for tabulating them):

NBC Nightly News, 3/19 (Pete Williams reporting):

Clip of GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. He's got his hand in his waistband, and he's a black male.

NBC Today, 3/20; 7am and again at 9am
Both reported by Lilia Luciano

Clip of GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. He's got his hand in his waistband, and he's a black male.

(The full transcript shows several exchanges between “...on drugs or something” and "He’s got his hand..." This comes at a point in the conversation after the “He looks black” statement that was made in response to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. On screen, these were shown as two separate text boxes, but no indication that there was material cut out.)
NBC Today, 3/22 (Lilia Luciano reporting):

ZIMMERMAN: “This guy looks like he's up to no good... He looks black.”

NBC Today, 3/27 (Ron Allen reporting):

ZIMMERMAN: “This guy looks like he's up to no good... He looks black.”

(The on-screen graphic in both instances shows ellipses after “no good,” but the audio runs continuously and omits the fact that Zimmerman was asked to describe the person he was following.)

Given that there are two separate clips of Zimmerman's voice that were created and run on two separate shows, how can we be assured that NBC has taken sufficient steps to punish anyone involved in perpetuating the false racist narrative? Because there hasn't been much of a focus on the "NBC Nightly News," how do we know that it wasn't an additional producer who made the phoney edit on that show?

Unfortunately there is no way of knowing and since George Zimmerman is still trying to fend off prosecutors, he's not likely to be able to launch a lawsuit against NBC for sliming him as a racist. Capus needs to do the right thing and come fully clean on what happened. As the boss, he can make things right. But will he choose to without governmental pressure? It will come, why wait until then?


#1 NBC's Yellow Journalism

They're all full of crap at NBC/MSNBC.

Why doesn't Brian Williams show his disgust and resign?

It ain't gonna happen.

#2 Guess the lawsuits are

Guess the lawsuits are starting to come in. More at 11:00

#3 I'll tell you why there's no

I'll tell you why there's no on-air correction or apology. Because there are millions of libtards out there who are ignorant of the doctoring and continue to repeat the racist narrative. NBC started the fire and has made no effort to put it out. As long as they can refrain from fessing up, the longer the misinformation will fester.

NBC is purposely trying to wring as much political mileage out of this as possible. The minute they make the on-air statement, the game is up. The longer they draw it out and more distance from the event, the more it becomes "truth" to the simpletons and the harder it will be for them to admit they were lied to.

               A gun in your hand beats a cop on the phone.

#4 LOL. This is like North Korea complaining about Venezuela.

Like the New York Times always corrects its 'mistakes'. Gimme a break.

#5 Gee, getting a little nervous?

Are we? You clowns have sufficiently stoked the "riot fire" reap the shame, and, I hope, lawsuits against your corrupt "news reporting"!!

"A nation can suffer it's fool's, but cannot survive the traitor"


#6 Brian Williams will not

Brian Williams will not resign because he is cut from the same cloth as the other biased "newspersons" at this insane asylum more commonly known as NBC/MSNBC.

#7 I wonder how much Zim can get

I wonder how much Zim can get from them when he is acquitted. Or the case may even be thrown out.

Nuke em til they glow; then shoot em in the dark

#8 Capus said,

"I did interviews with a lot of publications to get the message out". Really? Who with?

Because I've only seen the mention of it on blogs that I'm interested in.  I'm reasonably sure the nutcases at Kos and DU have yet to see your "message".   Or, your "message" is so nuanced that it made no impression on those cast-iron skulls at those places.

To re-elect Obama would be like the Titanic backing up and hitting the iceberg again.

#9 I apologize for ever

I apologize for ever considering NBC to be a news outlet rather than a propaganda machine.

#10 Save it

Save your phony apologies NBC, they're meaningless. A CYA mea culpa is much too late, anyway.


Facts are like kryptonite to the liberal.

#11 Since he says that they "probably should apologize",

then lets start with the apologies from Chris Matthews calling the GOP "The Grand Wizard Crowd" in the face of Michael Steele, a black republican. That is one of the most appauling things I have ever heard this man say, and especially to a man of color. If Chris Matthews REFUSES to apologize, then this man needs to resign from television. If he does not resign from his tv show effective immediately, then Boycott every single advertiser on M-BS-NBC and Comcast. Enough is enough.

"Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets". - Robert DeNiro, Taxi Driver (1976).

#12 News sources

especially for those viewers who aren't following the media industry or political blogs, i.e. the vast majority of "Today" watchers.

Absolutely correct! I know 2 people that believe and use Today and The View as their primary news sources. Do I ever discuss any political or other news story with them? NO!

#13 The fact that Brian Williams

The fact that Brian Williams (AKA The Great Dogma's #1 Sycophant) now knows what his news department did and still he remains silent should result in a either a period of time taken off with an on air apology or better yet, fire him for being complicit in the deliberate lie. In addition, the FCC should fine NBC a few million for their outrageous deception and require them to run an explanation of what they did with an apology every other on air hour for a period one week.

#14 ABC is also to blame for manipulation

Don't forget ABC's "exclusive" footage of Jorge driving into the police garage, having his head checked and then walking into the station. Everyone seemed to say the same: No visible marks on his head and he seems too "confident" to have just experienced such an attack. Right! If they looked at the complete police video - available to everyone - then they would have seen the injuries plus they would have seen Jorge walk a few steps and then collapse against the garage wall for a few seconds before starting the walk into the station. He looked rattled to me. Yet - thanks the ABC's careful editing, he looks perfectly fine. ABC is equally as guilty - as well as those who used ABC's footage in their broadcasts and news articles. Why didn't they use the complete video? Lazy? Or did it not fit the false narrative - that this was a race crime?

Linda Mae

#15 Not to mention ABC, Linda Mae

For some reason ABC seems to have escaped the public wrath that they and NBC deserve. What they did was just as bad as NBC. They added a second ABC logo (Chyron) to cover Zimmerman's head lacerations and aired a video of the police garage video which was grainey and difficult to make out details with.

#16 Yeah, we "probably" should....

but we won't.

#17 If anything happens to Zimmerman

Then those cretins should be held to account. Absolutely disgusting!

Seek Truth, Defend Liberty

#18 I wonder if

I wonder if they're beating up all white guys, or just those who look like "white Hispanics."

#19 Imagine what happens next

When these White/Hispanics start killing the thugs? NBC will then claim an epidemic of racism.

Seek Truth, Defend Liberty

#20 Talk about irony. It

Talk about irony. It Zimmerman is acquitted, MSNBC's idiocy here might be the turning point in making that happen. The very ones that want him hung.

#21 Yeah, we "probably" should....

Yeah, we "probably" should? This sounds like a supermarket manager reluctantly admitting they sold some two-day-old bread as only day-old!

The man clearly has no concept of the responsibility he bears for telling the truth to the potentially millions of people who stupidly trust his company's product, and the profound consequences of failing in that responsibility in not just a minor way, but in a way that is difficult to distinguish from outright fraud. For all the time the media spends patting itself on the back that it is the peoples' watchdog, let me suggest what his real priorities evidently look like:
1. Keeping his job
2. Helping Obama keep his job
3. Helping Democrats keep their jobs
4. That news reporting whatchmacallit-thingy - if it doesn't conflict with 1-2-3 above

I would not hire this clown to manage a hotdog stand: you couldn't trust him to follow safe food preparation practices and avoid poisoning the customers!

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