- - Monday, April 2, 2012

Amid withering criticism from media watchdogs, NBC News said Monday that it will conduct an internal probe into how and why an audiotape of George Zimmerman’s 911 call was altered to make the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer sound racist.

Mr. Zimmerman, who has said he fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense, is at the center of a raging national controversy over race, guns and stereotyping.

“We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story,” NBC told The Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple on Monday.

In the edited tape, which ran on NBC’s “Today” show March 27, Mr. Zimmerman tells a police dispatcher that the 17-year-old “looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

NBC started investigating after Fox News and others noted that the audio recording, played in its entirety, reveals that Mr. Zimmerman’s “He looks black” comment was made after the dispatcher asked, “Is he black, white or Hispanic?” — a portion of the tape that NBC edited out.

Prominent black 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 Hispanic, who has not been charged in the case, is not a racist.

NBC also has come under fire for allowing the Rev. Al Sharpton, a talk-show host on MSNBC, to comment on the case during his show while also spearheading protests in Florida.


Campaign team releases poll showing Hatch leading

Once viewed as the possible next casualty of the tea party movement, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch now sits as the favorite going into the Utah Republican Party’s nominating convention, according to a poll released Monday by the Hatch campaign.

The poll of 335 convention delegates, conducted by Dan Jones Associates of Salt Lake City, found Mr. Hatch leading the field with 62 percent. His closest challenger, former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, took 16 percent of the total, while state Rep. Chris Herrod trailed with 5 percent.

“The results of the poll show that Sen. Hatch has a great deal of support among the new delegates to the state convention,” Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen said.

Under Utah’s unique election rules, delegates will choose the Republican Senate nominee at the state convention April 21. If no candidate captures 60 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will face off in a June primary election.

Republican convention delegates tend to be more conservative than voters at large, making incumbents vulnerable to challengers running to their right. That was what happened in 2010 to Sen. Robert F. Bennett, who placed third at the tea party-dominated convention behind two newcomers who were more conservative.

But the 4,000 delegates to the 2012 convention have been described as less anti-incumbent than the 2010 pool. The Jones poll found that only 19 percent of those surveyed had served as delegates to the 2010 convention. At the same time, critics noted that the poll included less than 10 percent of the delegates.

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