A story published by Reuters reveals that, during the former coach’s trial, prosecutors played three versions of Sandusky’s phone interview with network correspondent Bob Costas. But one of the versions played in court included an embarrassing editing mistake that now could factor into Sandusky’s conviction as defense attorneys are reportedly considering using it as part of the basis for an appeal. Reuters explains:
In response to a subpoena, NBC News turned over three versions of Bob Costas’ NBC News interview with Sandusky, which aired last November on different NBC shows.
One of those versions, which was broadcast on the ‘Today’ show, contained an erroneous repetition of a key question and answer – about whether Sandusky was sexually attracted to young boys, Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general said on Sunday.
The repetition, Sandusky’s lawyers contend, made it appear to jurors that he was stonewalling. [Emphasis added]
“It wasn’t noticed by (NBC News), it wasn’t noticed by us, but it became obvious when it played in court,” Frederiksen told Reuters.
NBC News spokeswoman Amy Lynn confirmed this account on Sunday.
The article goes into more depth on the edit and the reaction:
In the Sandusky interview with NBC, Costas asks, “Are you sexually attracted to young boys, to underage boys?” according to an NBC News transcript.
Sandusky responded, “Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?”
But in the “Today” version, which was played for jurors and is still available on YouTube (here), the exchange was repeated.
The interview was originally aired correctly on NBC News’ new magazine show, ‘Rock Center’ on November 14. The erroneous version that repeated the exchange aired the following morning on ‘Today.’
In a statement, NBC’s Lynn said: “Under subpoena, NBC News turned over three versions of the Costas interview to prosecutors, including the ‘Today’ version with the error in it. Prosecutors used the ‘Today’ version, not realizing it included a technical glitch, and played it for the jury.
“After court that day, NBC News executives had a series of discussion with the prosecutors, and after some internal investigation were able to determine that the glitch originated on ‘Today.’ NBC News executives explained the situation to the court, and Judge Cleland sought to remedy the situation by giving the jury instructions to regard only a transcript of the full interview that was subsequently provided to them, not any audio that was played for them by prosecutors.”
Here is the video version of the edit. It comes at about the 6:37 mark:
A prosecution source says the mistake was “embarrassing.”
“Was it embarrassing?” the source asked in an interview with Reuters. “It was certainly embarrassing. Was it a mistake? It was clearly a mistake.” As for NBC, the source said the network regretted the error.
“Did they say, ‘I’m sorry?’ I can’t recall those exact words,” the source said. “Were they apologetic? Yes.”
“Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky sought a mistrial before his conviction for child sex abuse on the grounds that prosecutors showed jurors an inaccurate version of a bombshell NBC News interview with the former football coach, and the mistake may now form part of the basis for an appeal,” Reuters reports.
But this edit is just another in a long list for the new conglomerate. Earlier in the year, three NBC employees were fired for their parts in different, unrelated cases of editing the tapes of George Zimmerman calling 911 after shooting Trayvon Martin. Those edits cast Zimmerman in a racist light. More recently, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell edited a speech by Mitt Romney, removing the context and portraying him as out of touch. She has yet to apologize.