Reporter axed after Miami station airs edited version of Trayvon Martin 911 call similar to "Today" show blunder
In what is either an eerie coincidence or fodder for conspiracy theorists, a second NBC employee has been fired over an edit of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman's 911 call to police.
Miami NBC affiliate WTVJ has fired 13-year veteran reporter Jeff Burnside, after the station aired an edited version of the tape suggesting that Zimmerman's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Martin in late February might have been racially motivated.
Two other employees have been disciplined over the tape edit, which aired on March 19.
The Miami incident echoes that of NBC's "Today" show, which aired a misleadingly edited tape of Zimmerman's call on March 27.
On the "Today" segment," Zimmerman is heard to say, "'This guy looks like he's up to no good … he looks black.
However, the full transcript of the 911 calls reveals a crucial bit of excised dialogue between Zimmerman and the police dispatcher.
"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," Zimmerman said during the 911 call, according to the transcript.
The officer speaking to Zimmerman then asked, "OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?"
To which Zimmerman responded, "He looks black."
That incident led to the firing of an NBC News producer.
In response to the incident, the station will be hiring an assistant news director and adding safeguards.
“We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers,” a spokesman for the NBC-owned station told TheWrap in a statement. “After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this does not happen again.”
Martin was shot by neighborhood watch member Zimmerman after purchasing Skittles and a soft drink at a local convenience store. He was unarmed.
Since news of Martin's shooting became widespread, it has become a topic of passionate debate, with some suggesting that Martin's shooting was racially biased, and others — namely, Geraldo Rivera — claiming that Martin's hooded sweatshirt contributed to his death.
“I am urging the parents of Black and Latino youngsters, particularly, to not let their children go out wearing hoodies,” Rivera said.
Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder.