NBC Editgate: Buck Stops With Brian Williams

In September 2004, shortly before the November presidential elections pitting George W. Bush against John Kerry, CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Dan Rather presented a falsified document to the public that purported to show that Bush had gone AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard. As it turned out, the papers were forgeries. Rather retired under heavy pressure.

This month, NBC News broadcast a heavily edited tape of George Zimmerman’s 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case. The tape itself was fully available. And NBC News, as we’ve reported, cut the relevant portion of the tape deliberately in order to make Zimmerman look like a racist. Here’s the transcript of the original recording:

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.

Here’s the transcript of the edited recording:

          ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black.

The point is obvious. The unedited version shows Zimmerman offering the race of the suspect only when prompted, and doing so hesitantly. The edited version shows Zimmerman eagerly linking somebody being “up to no good” and somebody being “black.” The edited tape was broadcast on “Today” on March 27. NBC’s Ron Allen was the reporter on the scene – and, not coincidentally, he remained the reporter for NBC Nightly News as well. Matt Lauer was part of the report. So was Rachel Maddow. The entire staff was associated with this doctored recording.

Now NBC News has released an apology for the edited video:

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

The network did not, however, apologize to George Zimmerman. And this certainly is not an “error” in the production process. A very specific set of words was cut. It was not random. And it was not a mistake.

So the question becomes: whose head should roll?

The answer is obvious: Brian Williams.

Williams has been, since 2004, the managing editor of NBC News. And this was no mistake. It was a purposeful attempt to drive the narrative against Zimmerman. It is Williams’ job to see that the facts are reported rather than skewed. And the buck stops with him.

This is no isolated incident for Williams. He’s an ardent leftist who began his career by interning for Jimmy Carter. When Williams moderated a Republican debate in September 2011, he asked Rick Perry how he could sleep at night while implementing the death penalty as governor of Texas. After September 11, he implied that America’s “military swagger” provided the impetus for the attacks. He compared the bombing of Iraq to the U.S. military bombing of Japan in its indiscriminateness.

Williams once explained, “[NBC News has an] inordinate number of editors. Every word I write, before it goes on air, goes through all kinds of traps and filters, and it’s read by all kind of different people who point out bias.” He’s at the top of that food chain. And it’s his news department that helped ratchet up the Trayvon Martin story to the point of violence.



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