NBC News doctored Zimmerman’s 911 call to make him sound racist

When NBC News played the audio of the 911 call George Zimmerman made prior to the confrontation that resulted in the death Travyon Martin, this is what they played:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

That audio helped fan the nation-wide flames of hysteria over the supposed fact that the police had released an obvious racist who had tracked and killed Martin out of racist motives. Many Republicans, such as Jeb Bush, the highly regarded former governor of Florida, and many “conservatives,” such as Rich Lowry, the editor of America’s flagship “conservative” magazine, believed it.

But the audio played by NBC, though it seemed like “fact” (because it was an audio, and isn’t audio true?) was false.

Here is the transcript of the actual audio of the 911 call:

Zimmerman: 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.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy—is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

As Eric Wemple points out at the Washington Post blog, NBC totally distorted what Zimmerman said, making it seem that he simply equated “looks black” with “up to no good,” and concealing the fact that he only mentioned Martin’s race when the dispatcher asked him. The doctoring of the tape was brought out by NewsBusters and Fox News, and NBC has now announced it will have an “internal investigation” into the doctoring.

It’s as if the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had announced that it was launching an “internal investigation” into how it had happened that it, the Communist Party, engaged in Communist propaganda.

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Alexis Zarkov writes:

NBC has gone beyond journalism to outright propaganda, and perhaps libel. Had they simply clipped the endpoints of the audio record, they might have an excuse, albeit a lame one. But to cut out a key segment to deliberately create a false and damaging impression, (I think) constitutes actual malice (a legal term). Thus I think Zimmerman has a cause of action against NBC because they acted with reckless disregard for the truth, and they don’t have a Sullivan defense (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan). Zimmerman can certainly claim that he’s been damage as this fabrication has destroyed his reputation in his community. New Organizations are supposed to report the news, not create it.

LA replies:

What Mr. Zarkov is referring to is the federal court ruling that if a damaging falsehood is published about a person, and if he is a public figure, then in order to win damages he must prove that the publication saying this false thing about him was acting out of malice.

And I agree with him. Malice was plainly shown here. There is no way that such a monstrous distortion of the tape happened innocently or inadvertently. And when we consider the harm that has been done to Zimmerman, and the danger he has been placed in, he could sue NBC News for many millions.

David P. writes:

The MSM in the U.S., particularly the far left MSN, has for all practical purposes become a lynch mob. If it turns out that the audio was deliberately doctored, then NBC should be charged with incitement to riot. If some one gets killed as a consequence of the lie, then far more serious charges should be considered.

It is sad to to see the depths of depravity to which NBC has sunk.

This all started with intemperate and ill considered statements. What a sad state of affairs when the president, and other senior politicians of a mature democracy start mouthing off on matters that are sub judice so to speak. Politicians of a mature democracy do not behave this way, and if they do, then is indicative of a civilizational collapse.

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes from Canada:

This is a quote from the article by Rich Lowry, “Al Sharpton Is Right,” which you posted. In parentheses—which I think is significant, since it indicates his uncertainty over writing this, so he opts for a less forceful parenthetically enclosed “information”—Lowry writes:

(Although it’s murky, it sounds as if he mutters a racial epithet on the 9-1-1 call.)

This is a clear example of a journalist misleading his readers to make false associations by deliberately referring to incomplete or uncorroborated information.

Lowry wants a certain angle to the story, so stretches the information to make that angle fit his story.

I don’t think he “fell for it” so much as he wanted to story to be how he wanted it, and that he had no qualms about stretching it.

This is false and deceitful journalism. I think it is inexcusable. If he was really concerned about the uncertainty of the quote, he would have waited until more information was forthcoming, since making it a possible racial issue (i.e. white racists harming black innocents) is a big deal in American political and cultural life, and makes the story far more explosive than a neighborhood watchman / security guard trying to keep the peace and quiet and ending up killing a suspect.

LA notes:

In the original wording of the entry I said that Lowry “fell for it,” which I later changed to “believed it.”

Barbara V. writes:

Perfect analogy.

LA replies:

Thanks. :-)

Barbara replies:

And who is the famous news guy who got fired from NBC some years ago for doing exactly the same thing? It should be known that NBC stands for Nothing But Calumny.

LA replies:

I think you’re thinking of Dan Rather at CBS, plus his producer.

Barbara replies:

Ach! Yes…. at Calumny Brings Success!

LA replies:

That’s funny. And what is ABC?

Barbara replies:

Always Broadcast Calumny?

Roger G. writes:

A retired cop, at his blog, calls Zimmerman a community busybody, and says to stay out of the neighborhood watch. Oh sure. Society’s collapsing, so let’s abandon each other even more. Don’t give blood, or donate organs, or join the Lions Club, or help at an accident, or do any of that other Tocquevillean nonsense. Hang back, let someone else stick his neck out, look out for No. 1, and hope the crocodile eats you last. Well I say TO HELL WITH THAT! If we won’t care for each other we’re better off dead anyway, so let’s at least go out in style.

I emphasize that, as a physical coward myself, I have nothing against physical cowardice. If someone’s being beaten in the street, it’s understandable that someone would be too scared to jump in. But get on your cell phone to 911, go running for help, or at least dart back and forth screaming hysterically because a fellow human being is in trouble.

God bless George Zimmerman. He did the right thing, he’s being persecuted horribly, but he may end up NBC’s majority stockholder. Honor virutis preamium.

LA replies:

The English translation of the Latin phrase that Roger used (I had to look it up) is:

“Esteem is the reward of virtue.”

April 1

LA writes:

I should add that Erik Wemple is the exclusive source of this story. His blog entry begins:

NBC told this blog today that it would investigate its handling of a piece on the “Today” show that ham-handedly abridged the conversation between George Zimmerman and a dispatcher in the moments before the death of Trayvon Martin.

So the cutting out of part of the tape, resulting in Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” is, according to Wemple, the result of mere ham-handedness, not of a deliberate act. However, later in the article, Wemple uses much stronger language, approvingly quoting Brent Bozell that the audio is an “all-out falsehood,” and calling it “high editorial malpractice.”

Still it’s remarkable that this big story has been distributed via a blogger. All the articles that have so far appeared about it online link to Wemple’s article as their source. The story has not yet been picked up by a major newspaper or other mainstream media organ.

April 2

David P. writes:

The NBC and the left MSM should now have a daily “Two Minutes of Hate” against Emmanuel Goldstein, sorry, George Zimmerman. As per 1984, this is the way that rulers channel the angst of the people away from the party, and towards a convenient scapegoat.

The most disturbing aspect of this incident is not the appalling behaviour of the MSM, grossly irresponsible though it has been, but that of the political leadership. From President Obama down to congressional leaders, senators and state governors, they have weighed in without thought. All of them, and President Obama in particular, took oaths to defend the Constitution and laws of the U.S. But constitutional law without due process is worthless. If they had thought just a little, they would have requested for calm, and for the law to take its course. Instead, they are responsible for inciting riot, mayhem and murder, leading to disrespect of the law and anarchy.

President Obama’s gross violation of his oath, and dereliction of duty, make him unfit for office of the president of the United States. But who will impeach him? Congress would have been the normal venue, but they themselves are complicit in this outrage.

The present position is that Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty. Even if the DA decided to bring a case against Zimmerman, the atmosphere is so poisoned that it would impossible to select an unbiased jury, and thus a fair trial.

George Zimmerman should sue NBC for not just harming his reputation, but severely endangering his life, and the safety of his family. The same legal action against all those who took part in the lynch mob—President Obama, and the rest.

The ruling and media elite must be aware that they have left themselves open to very serious criminal charges. It wouldn’t surprise me that nothing will be spared to convict Zimmerman one way or other, on some charge or other. Once in jail, he will have to have very strict security, or he won’t survive long. So we come back full circle—there is no way Zimmerman can have a fair trial on whatever charge.

We are constantly reminded that the U.S. is a nation of laws. Something has to be done now to re-assert that fundamental proposition, or else this may be the incident which undoes America.

Spencer Warren writes:

You write:

It’s as if the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had announced that it was launching an “internal investigation” into how it had happened that the Communist Party engaged in Communist propaganda.


This story is just the latest example showing how liberalism has evolved into “cultural communism.” Others have commented on this: it is the true explanation of the culture war for the soul of the West. The conservative radio shows and journalists complain and rant about each incident, but are incapable of understanding (i.e. conceptualizing) the underlying forces. The dynamic driving cultural communism is the same as it was for Marxism-Leninism. Since they possess, in Thomas Sowell’s phrase, “the vision of the anointed,” the end justifies the means. This is the reason the New York Times, NBC et al have thrown overboard any pretense of fairness and objectivity, and why they resemble old Communist Pravda more than reputable news organizations.

As in Communist states, we now have “show trials” to justify the ideological dogma and rally the people: the Duke lacrosse team, for example.

Likewise, this explains the truly communistic tactics regularly employed now by liberals to attempt to destroy their “enemies.” Substitute “racist, sexist, homophobe” for “bourgeois imperialist,” and the parallel is exact. One can disagree, say, with the Tea Party, but to attempt to brand a political movement that has formed spontaneously in the finest traditions of our democracy, one dedicated—horrors—to our Constitution, as “terrorists,” would have brought a smiles to the faces of Lenin and Stalin. (“Spontaneity” was Lenin’s term for democracy; he hated it. Instead, he concocted “democratic centralism,” i.e. party dictatorship.)

To understand how this dogma could develop and grow in the West in the two decades since the collapse of Soviet Communism would seem to require a psychiatrist. However, we do know the reason, or at least one of the reasons: the evidently irresistible impulse in the breasts of many intellectuals and educated people (though I do not regard journalists as particularly educated) to realize their utopia of total and complete equality.

As we know all too well from the terrible twentieth century, their utopia (or gnosticism as you have explained) is at war with the reality of human nature. Therefore, it can be imposed only by coercion. In this respect, “political correctness” is the same as Communist censorship, except that today it is imposed mainly by non-government organizations (or, in Communist lexicon, “organs.”) And what a truly stupid phrase political correctness is—one with no real meaning. Instead, it should be termed “neo-Communist censorship.” (Perhaps you could ask readers to suggest their own substitutes.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 31, 2012 06:55 PM | Send

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