George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC Universal alleges that the network knowingly edited his phone calls to the police in order to make him sound racist and that he purposefully racially profiled Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is seeking damages against NBC as part of his libel lawsuit.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy, has been comparing his son to civil rights icons, claiming that his son’s legacy should be used to push for further gun control laws. These political statements are controversial because the George Zimmerman trial only used standard self defense instead of the Stand Your Ground law. Regardless, during these past several years, the so-called Trayvon Martin gun control laws have been losing to expansions of the Stand Your Ground law. There’s also been recent studies that claim that black people benefit more from Stand Your Ground than other races, and one Tea Party politician made waves when he made bad jokes about Trayvon and dead babies in order to make the point that using “tragedies to try to take away our constitutional rights” is more offensive.
Now the accusations behind the defamation lawsuit claim NBC practice “yellow journalism” when editors cut out key phrases in the 911 recording that made it seem as if George Zimmerman stated that Martin was black and he knowingly racially profiled him. NBC is also claimed to have falsely said Zimmerman used a racist remark during the conversation.
For those who do not recall, this is how the original recording went. Zimmermen said, “…he looks like he’s up to no good.” Then the dispatcher asked, “Would you say he’s black, white or hispanic?” In response, Zimmerman said, “He looks black.”
But NBC’s broadcast cut Zimmerman’s two sentences together to make him say, “He looks like he’s up to no good, he looks black.”
At the time of this incident, NBC apologized to Zimmerman for the broadcasts, and also fired two employees named Jeff Burnside and Lilia Rodriguez. But now NBC attorney Lee Levine claims the lawsuit is not valid, claiming that Zimmerman cannot prove NBC employees acted with “actual malice” by purposefully reporting news that was known to be false or biased. They say the bad quality of the recording caused them to interpret Zimmerman’s wording as a racial slur, and points out how other networks made the same mistake. Levine also say that the way the recording were edited are common practices in news media, where statements from public figures sometimes are shortened to excerpts of a speech.
The judge in George Zimmerman’s lawsuit decided to throw out allegations related to one out of five of the broadcasts sent out by NBC, and she even seemed to be considering dismissing the entire case. Zimmerman’s attorney, James Beasley Jr., asked the judge to reconsider so he could gather more evidence, and he pointed out how NBC acknowledged the issues with its defense when the network fired its employees over Zimmerman’s complaint. The judge also is choosing to rest her decision on the technicality that Zimmerman did not specify the specific broadcasts or the name of the offending employees when he wrote his initial letter to NBC before the defamation lawsuit was filed.
What do you think about George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC? Should the shooter of Trayvon Martin be rewarded cash as damages?