(Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)
NBC has issued an apology to its viewers for editing George Zimmerman's 911 call, placed prior to shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, in a way that made him sound racist.
"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," read the Tuesday statement from NBC.
Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was in a neighborhood watch program and called 911 to report Martin as looking suspicious before the shooting.
An episode of NBC's "Today Show" played an edited version of that 911 call.
In the edited version, Zimmerman said, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."
In the unedited version, though, Zimmerman said, "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."
Then the dispatcher asked Zimmerman, "OK, and this guy, is he black, white or Hispanic?"
Zimmerman answered, "He looks black."
Media Matters, a conservative media watchdog organization, brought attention to the editing. NBC announced Saturday that it would review the matter.
Race has played a major role in the controversy over the shooting of Martin. Some have argued that Zimmerman's actions were motivated by racism. The Sanford Police Department and state attorney's office have also been accused of racism for not charging Zimmerman with a crime.
A Tuesday report by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that reactions to media coverage of Martin's death have largely fallen along racial and partisan lines.
Forty-three percent of whites, but only 16 percent of blacks, believe that there has been too much coverage of Martin's death. Additionally, 56 percent of Republicans, but only 25 percent of Democrats, believe the media have spent too much time on the incident.
Martin's death was one of the top two news stories last week. It accounted for 18 percent of news coverage while Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care Act accounted for 19 percent of news coverage, according to Pew.
Erik Wemple, media blogger for The Washington Post, was one those who brought attention to NBC's editing of Zimmerman's 911 call. While reporting on NBC's apology, Wemple noted that NBC has not explained why the lapse occurred, nor has it apologized directly to the person most wronged by the mishap – Zimmerman.
"In light of all that's happened, Zimmerman may be a tough person for a news network to apologize to, but that's just the point: Apologies are hard," Wemple wrote.