Now that the trial to determine whether or not he was guilty of a malicious murder is over, George Zimmerman’s lawyers are stepping up their lawsuit against NBC News for airing edited audio that allegedly made their client look like a racist.
Last December, Zimmerman filed the lawsuit against NBC for airing what many outlets described as deceptively edited audio on the March 27 broadcast of the Today show.
On the morning show, NBC spliced together two lines spoken by Zimmerman as he talked to a 911 operator to report Trayvon Martin as a suspicious character wandering his neighborhood.
On the NBC version of the call, Zimmerman is heard to say: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
This makes Zimmerman seem to find Martin suspicious because of his race. However, the full audio showed Zimmerman described the teen’s behavior as “up to no good,” and he did not mention race until asked about it by a dispatcher.
Zimmerman: 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.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy, is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
Breitbart News first reported the edit, leading to an outcry from conservative media and even criticism fro progressive news outlet Mother Jones. Then-NBC News President Steve Capus called the edit “a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call” in April of 2012. Almost a year later, Capus left the company.
In December, Zimmerman’s lawyers said that NBC created a “false and defamatory misimpression using the oldest form of yellow journalism: manipulating Zimmerman’s own words, splicing together disparate parts of the recording to create the illusion of statements that Zimmerman never actually made.”
The lawsuit was held up pending the outcome of the murder trial. Now that a Florida jury has decided that Zimmerman is not guilty of all charges, the neighborhood watcher is surging ahead with his lawsuit against the network.
The Washington Post reports that Zimmerman lawyer James Beasley is ready to go forward against NBC–and as soon as possible, at that.
“This verdict of not guilty is just that, and shows that at least this jury didn’t believe that George was a racist, profiling, or anything that the press accused George of being,” Beasley said. “That probably doesn’t get you that much but it’s simply time for us to start the case and hold accountable anyone who was irresponsible in their journalism.”