How Can You Ever Trust News Media Again?
This week, the Media Research Center uncovered a stunning ethical breach in NBC News' coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting. The often-played 9-1-1 call placed by George Zimmerman, the now-infamous neighborhood watch captain in his Sanford, FL community, was edited to fit the story that has framed this case.
This is the edited call that aired on The Today Show. You hear that, and George Zimmerman might just be the racist so many want you to believe he is. However, when you hear what was actually said, you realize that he was merely answering a question put to him by the police officer on the other end of the line. One quick edit, a few seconds, but so much of what's been presumed about Zimmerman turns on those expurgated words.
To be generous, you might think it was an honest mistake, but this is Journalism 101: don't change the facts to suit your needs. The facts will tell their own story. Apparently, someone at NBC preferred a different narrative.
Perhaps this "breach of the public trust", as MRC president Brent Bozell put it, would be viewed differently if it sprang out of some an agenda-driven website. But this was The Today Show. If we can't rely upon NBC and The Today Show to report this difficult and sensitive story honestly, no matter what the editorial opinion may be, how could any of their reporting ever be trusted again.
Bozell called this incident "journalistic malpractice", and said that "until (NBC) makes amends it has forfeited its status as a 'news' operation". Bozell appeared on The Mike Gallagher Show this week, and told us that NBC would investigate the incident, which was "like Nixon investigating Watergate". The internet age has given us the watchdogs like MRC, and talk radio, to call out the mainstream media when it tries to hoodwink the public. We may have been fooled before, but let's be sure we don’t get fooled again.
***NOTE - NBC News rep Lauren Kapp said in a statement yesterday in response to a query by Reuters, that "during (NBC's)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."