George Zimmerman sued NBC Thursday, alleging the network defamed him when it edited the recording of his 911 call to police about Trayvon Martin, in order to make him sound like a “racist and predatory villain” for the sake of ratings.
“NBC News saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” Zimmerman alleged in the complaint, filed Thursday in Seminole County, near Orlando.
Former neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Martin during a confrontation last February. During the 911 call, Zimmerman explained he followed Martin in the gated community in which he lived, moments before the shooting.
In the recording heard by NBC viewers, Zimmerman appeared to volunteer the information, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
Edited out was the 911 dispatcher asking Zimmerman if the person he was suspicious of was “black, white or Hispanic,” to which Zimmerman had responded, “He looks black.”
NBC “pounced on the Zimmerman/Martin matter because they knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalization and manipulation, a racial powderkeg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs, particularly the plummeting ratings for their ailing ‘Today Show’,” the suit alleged.
Zimmerman is seeing an undisclosed amount of money in the suit which also names as defendants NBC correspondents Ron Allen and Lilia Rodriguez Luciano, and as well as Jeff Burnside, a reporter for the NBC owned station in Miami.
Luciano, Burnside, and an NBC producer were fired after a network investigation determined the 911 tape had been edited.
“We strongly disagree with the accusations made in the complaint," NBC Universal said Thursday afternoon in a statement, adding, "There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court.”