If you look at this timeline that lists the objectively terrible media behavior in the early days of the Zimmerman case last year, you will see how crucial NBC’s fraudulent editing of a 911 call was in setting a media and political narrative that falsely claimed George Zimmerman is racist. This malicious edit made it look as though Zimmerman was profiling Trayvon Martin as black, when he was simply answering a dispatcher’s question:
On the storied “Today Show,” NBC News told America Zimmerman said this on the 911 call:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
When the truth is that the unedited audio actually 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.
Once NBC’s fraud was publicly debunked, George Zimmerman filed suit against the network. After his acquittal last week, Zimmerman’s attorneys said they will now turn their energies towards NBC.
Tuesday night, on Fox News, two legal experts appeared on the O’Reilly Factor and agreed that NBC is in hot water and likely to lose millions:
Lis Wiehl, a Fox News analyst, said, “That’s absolutely not enough. NBC is on the hook here for a big defamation, intentional infliction with emotional stress lawsuit here. They doctored that tape. It went out there. It started the whole narrative of Zimmerman being this hardened racist, this profiling racist that started everything.”
Fellow Fox Newser Kimberly Guilfoyle remarked that the case will pivot on whether Zimmerman is considered a public or private figure; the burden of proof in a defamation case is far less demanding for private figures under U.S. law. Though Zimmerman is now a public figure, he was a private figure when this whole episode went down, Wiehl noted.
The report above is from Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple, who agrees that it will cost NBC “big bucks” to make this go away.
My hope, and I say this without any rancor, is that Zimmerman refuses to settle and that the trial is televised live.
Nothing could be better for the country and the media than to pour sunshine on how and why this happened.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC