On March 19 NBC6 ran a story on the phone call George Zimmerman made in connection with the Trayvon Martin case. In that story an error in editorial judgment was made in which a question from the operator was deleted which could have created the impression that Mr. Zimmerman’s statement may have been singling out Trayvon Martin because of his race. 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.
That’s the entirety of the NBC explanation, but the Miami Herald has much more, including the identity of the report fired over the editing incident (hat tip to reader Jim) – NBC6 fires local reporter Jeff Burnside in editing of Zimmerman police call:
In an astonishing admission, Miami’s NBC6 has acknowledged the local affiliate made the same questionable edits to George Zimmerman’s call to police that were widely attacked when the network aired a similarly misleading clip on the Today show last month.
Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran of the local WTVJ station, was fired Friday and two other employees were disciplined, The Miami Herald confirmed. Unlike the Today show, NBC6 aired a correction and apology during its Wednesday evening newscasts.
The controversy started last month, when the Today show aired a segment on the call Zimmerman made to police the night he encountered a Miami Gardens teenager he found suspicious. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman said on the Today show tape.
But the unedited version of the call showed that before Zimmerman mentioned Trayvon Martin’s race, the police operator asked him, “Is he black, white or Hispanic?” Conservative blogs skewered the network’s March 22 and 27 blunders, calling them a deliberate misrepresentation aimed at keeping the Zimmerman-is-a-racist narrative alive.
Jeff Burnside was one of three bylines on the original story, along with Christina Hernandez and Edward Colby. I was working on a connection between them and the Today show edits. A spokesman for the NBC affiliate quoted in the Miami Herald article claims there isn’t a connection. “Glassman stressed that the Today show and Miami edits took place in two separate incidents involving different people.”
As part of my research I had saved some information on all three reporters. Here is the information I found on Burnside.
- Jeff Burnside’s NBC Miami bio page, which has since been deleted (screenshot) – “Jeff Burnside has been in the news business for more than 20 years working as a reporter, anchor, news manager and producer in cities such as Seattle, Boston and now Miami.”
- Jeff Burnside’s LinkedIn profile (screenshot) – He’s simply described as a reporter.
- Jeff Burnside’s NBC Miami Facebook last updated April 24th (screenshot)
- Jeff Burnside’s Twitter last updated April 21st (screenshot)
- MSNBC Dowdifies a George Zimmerman Quote into Newspaper Blackout Poetry
- NBC Today Show does to the Zimmerman 911 call exactly what MSNBC did in print
- Actor Don Cheadle Criticizes NBC’s Alteration of Zimmerman 911 Call
- NBC fires editor for altering Zimmerman 911 call; when will MSNBC fire the writer who did the same?