Brian Stelter of the New York Times is reporting that NBC has fired a producer “involved” in the shameful abridgement of the George Zimmerman conversation with an emergency dispatcher just prior to the killing of Trayvon Martin. Here’s the meat of Stelter’s scoop:
The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.
A dismissal is certainly commensurare with the offense in the case. As this blog has repeated several times, the edition of the “Today” show at the center of this story quoted Zimmerman as saying the following:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
Yet the transcript of that portion of the call reads as follows:
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.
The effect here is to portray Zimmerman as a hardened racial profiler, when in fact he was asked to provide the racial information to the dispatcher.
The story of NBC’s Zimmerman scandal is now officially following a drip-drip-drip pattern. About a week ago, this blog reported that the network was investigating the episode; on Tuesday, it issued a threadbare statement on its findings, including an apology and an acknowledgement that it had erred. Yet it didn’t go into detail on exactly what had happened and what disciplinary measures would be taken.
And so the media industry press has sawed in to the narrative. Reuters yesterday provided some detail on what had gone down internally at NBC since the fiasco emerged. And now the New York Times pitches in with a significant new wrinkle.
Yet it’s not sewn up. We still don’t know the name of the dismissed producer; we don’t know if the network gave any consideration to apologizing directly to Zimmerman; we don’t know if warnings were issued to other NBC employees; and so on.
NBC could have headed off this story sprawl by publishing a fuller account of the incident ealier this week. Since it failed to do so, this scandal will have a life well beyond Easter.