Amid withering criticism from media watchdog groups, NBC News on Monday said it will conduct an internal probe into how and why an audio tape of George Zimmerman’s 911 tape was altered to make the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer sound racist.
Mr. Zimmerman, who has said he shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense, is at the center of a raging national controversy over race, guns and stereotypes.
“We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story,” NBC told Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple on Monday.
In the edited tape, which ran on NBC’s “Today” show on March 27, Mr. Zimmerman tells a police dispatcher that the 17-year-old teen “looks like he’s up to no good. …He looks black.”
NBC’s investigation comes after Fox News and others noted that the audio recording played in its entirety reveals that Mr. Zimmerman’s “He looks black” remark came after the dispatcher asked “Is he black, white or Hispanic?” — a portion of the tape that NBC edited out.
Prominent civil rights leaders and many in the media have cited the audio as evidence that Mr. Zimmerman shot the teen because of his race, but Mr. Zimmerman’s supporters insist the 28-year-old man, whose mother is Hispanic and who has not been charged in the case, is not a racist.
NBC has also come under fire for allowing the Rev. Al Sharpton, a talk show host on MSNBC, to comment on the case while also spearheading protests in Florida.