January 31, 2013

Is this guy a public figure? (Getty)

Last night on his eponymous Fox News program, Sean Hannity argued that MSNBC’s editing and presentation of the Neil Helsin “heckling” video smacks of the same tactics that prevailed in NBC News’s terrible editing of the George Zimmerman 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case last year: “Now this was not a matter of gun-rights supporters rudely interrupting somebody to push their agenda. The only people here pushing an agenda in all of this appears to be the biased news people over at NBC.”
And it’s hardly the first time, Hannity continued, citing how NBC News edited that Zimmerman tape to make him look like a hardened racial profiler.
That line of analysis echoes what Media Research Center founder and president Brent Bozell yesterday declared “a clear pattern of deception at NBC News. It is the most egregious violation of journalistic ethics. First they edited the Trayvon Martin 911 call to fabricate a racist motive. Then Andrea Mitchell tried to invent a fake ‘supermarket scanner moment’ for Mitt Romney. Now MSNBC is deceptively editing footage of Sandy Hook testimony in order to smear gun-rights advocates. This is not how a legitimate, professional news organization operates.”
The supermarket instance cited by Bozell refers to the segment on MSNBC’s air last June when Mitchell suggested that Romney’s expression of wonderment over hoagie-ordering technology at a Wawa convenience store provided evidence that he was out of touch.
NBC News’s treatment of the Zimmerman tape is a sui generis disaster, to the point that the Wawa and “heckler” moments have trouble fitting in the same conceptual basket. That said, MSNBC/NBC sure could use a high-profile, on-air screwup or two whose impact tilts in the other political direction.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.