George Zimmerman to Sue NBC For Doctored Tape

George Zimmerman appears before Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. Friday, April 20, 2012, during a bond hearing in Sanford, Fla. (AP)

Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman will imminently put NBC News on notice — legally — that doctoring tapes inaccurately has consequences.

Back when the news first broke that Zimmerman shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, one of the main bits of evidence that anti-Zimmerman commentators used to condemn the accused was the tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call leading up to the shooting.

Usually, they would point to one line in particular: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

There’s just one problem: that line, as it was played, didn’t exist. The call had been doctored by NBC News staffers — who were subsequently fired — seemingly to make Zimmerman sound racist.

This is what was actually said:

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.

The edit failed to include the key question that put Zimmerman’s mention of Martin’s race in context.

Now, the New York Post reports that Zimmerman is suing NBC for this apparent attempt to malign him using doctored tapes:

Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman is suing NBC over the network’s botched editing of his 911 tape, Page Six can exclusively reveal.

We hear Zimmerman’s attorneys are about to file a complaint against NBC and its top executives, naming news president Steve Capus and correspondent Ron Allen, who was the reporter on the scene for the broadcast on “Today” on March 27. He also remained the reporter for the story on “NBC Nightly News.”

A source tells us, “The suit will be filed imminently against NBC and its news executives. The network’s legal department has put everybody in the news department involved with this incident on notice, telling them not to comment.”

Zimmerman’s suit has yet to be filed, and it is unclear that what NBC did will meet the standards for defamation of character, or any similar offense. Moreover, the results of this legal challenge will likely depend on the results of Zimmerman’s own trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Nevertheless, those who have watched NBC (and its sister network MSNBC) seem to slide further and further away from objective journalism will no doubt see this particular incident as a form of legal vindication.