NBC's national Today show deservedly caught loads of flak last month after airing an audio clip of George Zimmerman's 911 call that had been falsely edited to sound as if Zimmerman was saying he found Martin suspicious because he was black. But where did the bogus sound clip come from?
The network launched an internal investigation and, according to SFLTV, they found the culprit was veteran NBC6 reporter Jeff Burnside. Burnside has been fired over the incident, the blog reports.
Update: A spokesman for the NBC owned stations confirms for Riptide that an NBC6 employee was fired over a bogus Zimmerman edit, though he claims the edit was separate from the national Today show incident.
Poynter got in touch with an NBC6 spokesperson, who told them that "as a result of our investigation, an employee involved in editing the tapes is no longer with the station;" they didn't apparently confirm that Burnside was the employee fired.
Riptide also left a message at the station; we'll update this post when we hear back.)
Update: An NBC spokesman released this statement to Riptide:
"We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers. After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this doesn't happen again."
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We're still trying to get to the bottom of how the NBC6 error differs from the Today show mistake.
The portion of Zimmerman's 911 call that landed Today in hot water originally read like this (via the Washington Post):
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.
When the clip aired on the national show, though, Zimmerman's audio went like this:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.
Key difference! Several people at NBC6 were questioned over the bad edit, SFLTV reports, and Burnside was suspended until last Friday, when he was fired. A producer for Today was also fired, the site says.
Burnside was among the most experienced reporters at NBC6 with dozens of journalism awards and several regional Emmys.
He won New Times' Best TV News Reporter in 2007, when we wrote that "he has gone undercover to expose how puppies go from puppy mills to pet shops, and may have helped save the whales by uncovering how powerful sonar can hurt them. He's interviewed presidents, exposed white-power extremists and dangerous religious cults."