The Trayvon Martin case has become a lightning rod for controversy, with the facts of the tragic case becoming the centerpiece of what is slowly beginning to look like a nationwide media war. And to media cynics on both sides, that information warring is only proving that, to paraphrase a popular TV show, when you play the game of ratings, you win or you lie.
NBC News and its partner MSNBC haven't been on the winning side recently. In fact, two recent incidents have been very unkind to the company. First, there was the revelation that NBC News might have doctored a clip of a 911 call made by shooter George Zimmerman before his confrontation with Trayvon Martin. The original call ran as follows:
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 altered NBC News version simply ran this way:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
Now NBC News has actually issued a public apology for the editing of the clip, along with an assurance that they will be conducting an investigation to find out how the version was aired. Here's the text of their statement, as posted by the Washington Post:
During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.
Lots of credit on this story should go to Newsbusters -- make sure to read their post on the "skimpy" apology by clicking here.
Unfortunately, this isn't the only controversy which NBC and its affiliates have been embroiled in regarding its coverage of the Martin case. MSNBC host Al Sharpton has been involving himself in the controversy to the point that some news sources are suggesting he's crossed a line. But more noticeably still, MSNBC Pop Cultural contributor Toure recently attacked CNN anchor Piers Morgan for being too willing to hear both sides of the story. Specifically, Morgan had invited George Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman, to appear on his show - something Toure found objectionable.
The reason he gave was that George and Robert Zimmerman were allegedly estranged - a "fact" which Morgan himself shot down as incorrect. Moreover, he accused Piers Morgan of softballing his interview with Robert Zimmerman. Morgan denied and refuted the charge, leading Toure to sputter with rage about how Morgan should have asked even more pointed questions, for instance how one would quantify Robert Zimmerman's suggestion that his brother was "the most honest brother." Here's the segment involved:
Unfortunately for Toure, he might have been too aggressive himself. In fact, he had to specifically apologize via Twitter for what Yahoo News called a "meltdown." The damage, however, was done. RedState gleefully seized on one portion of Toure's remarks:
The most stunning admission yet came from something called a Touré, which is apparently an MSNBC contributor. Touré apparently got tired of being on a television channel no one watches so he went on Piers Morgan last week to take Piers to task for the journalistic crime of getting both sides of the story:You know, at NBC, in the hallways, we were laughing at you today,” Touré told Morgan. “We wouldn’t take [Robert Zimmerman]. Standards and Practices at NBC wouldn’t let him get through door. And you had him on the air and allowed the hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands or whatever number of people watch your show listen to what he had to say.
This is the first time I can remember an alleged news figure explicitly stating that his network had a policy against allowing one of the major players in a national news story to give his side. My favorite part of Touré’s hysterical rant was his indignation at the fact that people would hear what Zimmerman had to say. One thing is clear – the way the media has been covering this story so far validates that Touré really was telling the truth. Journalistic Standards and Practices apparently don’t allow for any coverage of the Trayvon Martin story that would suggest that the race pimps who are currently hustling this story don’t have it right.
This repeated necessity for a major network to walk back its coverage, or for its contributors to apologize, is not a good sign for the company in question.