NBC News' edit of the 911 call that Trayvon Martin's shooter George Zimmerman placed to police was unfortunate — but it wasn't deliberately misleading, NBC News president Steve Capus insists.
Capus told Reuters that the shortened version of the call was "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call."
Capus added that "several people" have been disciplined over the incident, though he declined to offer specifics.
According to sources who spoke to Reuters, executives at NBC News were unaware that the 911 call was edited in a deceptive way. Sources also told the agency that the producer responsible for the segment — who has been fired — was thoroughly questioned about the intention behind the editing, and it was concluded that the tape had been edited out of time concerns.
The edited 911 call, which aired on NBC's "Today" show March 27, was cut in such a way that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, could be considered racist.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” Zimmerman said in the edited segment.
However, a crucial exchange between Zimmerman and the 911 dispatcher was excised from the call.
"This guy looks like he’s up to no good," Zimmerman tells the dispatcher. "Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."
"OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?" the dispatcher then asked.
To which Zimmerman replied, "He looks black."
NBC News' editing of the tape drew criticism from several groups, including the Media Research Center, whose president Brent Bozell called the mistake "an all-out falsehood."
Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Martin, who was black, after the latter bought Skittles and a soft drink at a convenience store. Martin was unarmed. Zimmerman, who has not been charged in the incident, claimed that he acted in self-defense after Martin physically attacked him.
NBC's editing of the tape prompted an internal investigation and later, an apology from the network.
"During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret," the network said. "We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers."