With the heightened tension over race issues swirling around the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, two media figures have now been fired, at NBC and National Review, over their handling of the story.
NBC fired the producer of a "Today Show" segment that edited Zimmerman's 911 call to make him sound racist. The edited version made it sound as if Zimmerman mentioned that Martin was black immediately after saying, "he looks like he's up to no good." In reality, Zimmerman only described Martin's race after being asked to do so by the 911 dispatcher.
The Associated Press received the news from an undisclosed source. The producer was not named.
In the second instance, National Review, a conservative magazine, fired one its writers after he posted a racist article on another website. In "The Talk: Nonblack Version," posted at Taki's Magazine, John Derbyshire writes about advice he thinks white parents should give their children about blacks. The article is a response to several articles about "the talk" that black parents should give their children regarding racism in light of Martin's death.
He wrote that blacks are marked by hostility and antisocial behavior toward whites and "around five percent" of blacks are "ferociously hostile."
Derbyshire advises whites to avoid places that have a large number of black people, avoid living in areas where the local government has black politicians elected to office, scrutinize the character of black politicians more closely than white politicians before voting for them, and avoid being a "Good Samaritan" or helping blacks in distress.
He also argued that blacks are, on average, less intelligent than whites and advises making friendships with an "intelligent and well-socialized" black person to "gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice."
In announcing Derbyshire's dismissal, National Review Editor Rich Lowry said that Derbyshire's article "lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. ... this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation."
Race has played a major role in the Zimmerman case. Zimmerman has been accused of racism for targeting Martin as "suspicious," and the Sanford Police Department and Florida attorneys general office have also been accused of racist motives for not charging Zimmerman with a crime.
A Gallup poll released last week showed that blacks and non-blacks view the case differently. Seventy-two percent of blacks, but only 31 percent of non-blacks, said that racial bias was a "major factor" in the events that led to the February shooting, in the April 2-4 poll of 3,006 Americans, including 242 blacks. Also, 73 percent of blacks, but only 35 percent of non-blacks, said that Zimmerman would have been arrested if his victim was white. The margin of error is plus or minus eight percent for the black respondents and plus or minus two percent for the non-black respondents.
Martin, 17, was shot dead by neighborhood watchman Zimmerman, 28, on Feb. 26. Martin was walking from a convenience store to his father's fiancee's home in a gated residential community when he was killed. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense.
A grand jury had been formed to determine if Zimmerman should be arrested for shooting Martin. It was scheduled to meet Tuesday but according to an announcement Monday by the office of special prosecutor Angela Corey, a grand jury will not be used in the case.