Second Firing in False Zimmerman 911 Edit

There has been a second firing at NBC over the misleading edit of George Zimmerman's 911 call. A report published yesterday afternoon by the Miami Herald identifies reporter/producer Jeff Burnside as the individual responsible for the edits which appeared in an NBC6 news story on March 19th and again on March 20th.

Burnside's social media accounts show he was heavily involved in the Trayvon Martin story beginning on March 19th. The next day he interviewed one of Zimmerman's neighbors at the scene of the shooting. The story he wrote to accompany the interview (since corrected) is one of the two places the misleading edit appeared. In the original version Burnside quotes from the Zimmerman 911 call with a misleading ellipsis, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good…he looks black." On March 22nd Burnside posted this photo of himself interviewing Al Sharpton, who was in Florida for a Trayvon Martin rally. He also attended a rally with Ben Jealous of the NAACP.

Burnside's story containing the misleading edit was picked up by MSNBC and a lightly revised version was published the next day, March 21st. The MSNBC version of the story has also been corrected but it was this story which caught the eye of a conservative blogger at Curses! Foiled Again!. The misleading edit he pointed out was picked up by Dan Riehl here at Breitbart News and within a few days edit-gate had become national news and an embarrassment to NBC brass.

Then, three weeks ago, NBC announced that, after an internal investigation, they had fired a Miami based producer responsible for the misleading edit which appeared on the Today Show. That individual still has not been identified but is not Jeff Burnside. Burnside apparently did not work on the Today Show and was only responsible for the (identical) edits that appeared at NBC6 and MSNBC.

It's not clear how two different editors working on separate print and video stories made the exact same misleading edit. NBC has not offered anything like a detailed explanation. This afternoon, NBC6 Miami did offer a brief statement but again no details. The only hint of what's really going on at NBC comes at the tail end of the Miami Herald story:

"The network is very sensitive about the whole Al Sharpton/MSNBC issue, so when the right-wing bloggers started hammering, they needed to throw them fresh meat,” said the station source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the controversy. “It’s not at all clear how this happened. Obviously, there was miscommunication."

So it's not clear how this happened, but that doesn't matter because the real goal is to protect Sharpton? That sounds a lot like a scapegoat. Whatever his motives, Burnside's decision to edit the 911 call may have serious consequences , not just for his employment, but for George Zimmerman, and for NBC --which could be held liable for defamation.


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