The NBC Editing "Error"
April 08, 2012, 07:53 PM
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Mickey Kaus has some interesting speculation on the Nameless Scapegoat (N.S.) whom NBC is blaming for that editing "error" that had George Zimmerman telling 911:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.


One fascinating aspect is how little old-fashioned shoe leather reporting the prestige press has done on the whole Trayvon story. For example, why is the NBC editor still the "Nameless Scapegoat?" Surely, much of the press has the contacts to figure out that mystery.

Mickey explains that NBC has to walk a delicate line with their employee, and, presumably, the rest of the mainstream media has been abetting them:

As JustOneMinute‘s Tom Maguire reminded me, when you publish something so bad you face a giant adverse defamation verdict–well that’s exactly when you try not to fire the reporter or editor responsible. If you fire them, they’re likely to cut a separate deal with the plaintiff and testify in court about how sloppy your editorial practices were, how you had it in for plaintiff all along, etc.

Zimmerman finally has a new lawyer, so now he's likely to sue NBC for defamation and/or if he goes to criminal trial, launching all sorts of motions based on prejudicial publicity. After this, and the national media claiming he the C word, and all the other wrong things they put out there, can George Zimmerman get a fair trial anywhere in the U.S.? Can they move a trial to New Zealand. 

But, with a libel case in the wings, things get interesting. Mickey writes:

In this case, I suspect the N.S. might have some valuable information to offer a plaintiff’s lawyer. Like how maybe there was a surge of enthusiasm at, yes, the highest levels of NBC News for turning this story into a clear cut emotional morality play (fueled by trendy social media!) and riding it to higher ratings for days, if not weeks. If you go to the March 20 Nightly News broadcast (available here) you can see NBC’s Ron Allen letting viewers imagine the racial epithet Zimmerman used for the man he was following.  Oh, wait. …

The N.S. was reportedly a “seasoned” producer. Seasoned producers (and reporters) know what the bosses want. …

About 95% of the Trayvon brouhaha has been about racial hatred, and it would be amusing to get a court to put a legal imprimatur on that.

Another interesting legal question is whether all the deep-pocketed media can be sued for defamation for initially calling Zimmerman "white." Zimmerman's father, a judge, saw that it was very much in his son's interest, legally and politically, to not be white. That would be an interesting precedent to establish: is calling a mestizo "white" for purposes of riling up racial hatred against him an actionable slur? Lots and lots of media outlets kept calling him "white" even after his picture became available.