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George Zimmerman sues NBC over Trayvon Martin reports

Erik Wemple
Washington Post [1]
Dec 7, 2012

Lawyers for George Zimmerman filed suit today against NBC Universal Media [2] over a well-publicized editing error that portrayed their client in racist terms in his pursuit of Trayvon Martin on a drizzly evening in February.

“NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so to set about the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” states the civil complaint in its opening salvo against NBC.

(Also at The Washington Post: Can Zimmerman prevail against NBC? [3])

NBC’s editing of the 911 audiotape in the Martin case became a public fixation after the media-monitoring Web site NewsBusters.org noted editing oddities [4] on a “Today” show broadcast March 27. Here’s how NBC News portrayed the audiotape:

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

The full tape went like this:

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.

Zimmerman thus didn’t volunteer a racial profile of Martin; he was asked to provide it, a point that the lawsuit makes in colorful fashion: “NBC created this false and defamatory misimpression using the oldest form of yellow journalism: manipulating Zimmerman’s own words, splicing together disparate parts of the recording to create illusions of statements that Zimmerman never actually made.”

Full article here [1]