WaPo media watchdog Erik Wemple was all over NBC when their bogus Zimmerman edit was limited to the March 27 Today Show. Now that the bogus edit has been discovered at the March 22 Today show and three times at NBC Miami, he is all over the critics calling for a more extensive investigation and is burying deep in his links their discovery of the broader mess. It looks as if Mr. Wemple was willing to follow the story until it actually led somewhere.
There was a time when WaPo media watchdog Erik Wemple considered NBC's deplorable editing of the George Zimmerman 911 "He looks black" call to be a big story - here are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 posts covering it. Each deals with the tempest around the March 27 Today Show, described in detail here. Eventually NBC apologized, explained that time constraints were the problem, and fired a producer. The firing prompted this tough talk from Mr. Wemple:
The sheer breathtakingness of that elision has convinced some onlookers that NBC acted with malice in this instance — that it was out to portray Zimmerman as someone prone to racial profiling. The New York Post spoke for this group in a Thursday editorial arguing that the audio editing “constitutes pretty damning evidence of willful misconduct by NBC News.” NBC’s statement from Tuesday contends it was simply an error, and Reuters’s sources at the network say the same thing: “The sources described the producer’s actions as a very bad mistake, but not deliberate.”
What we know is that it couldn’t possibly look worse. The audio editing appeared to go out of its way to besmirch Zimmerman. It would have been easier for NBC to have simply let the actual, and less damning, version of the tape play for its viewers. Yet until I see or find more evidence, I am not going to follow the New York Post’s diagnosis of willful misconduct. Colossal errors take all forms, including ones that look like conspiracies.
It couldn't look worse? Well, how about if NBC critics discovered that the same bogus Zimmerman edit appeared on the March 22 Today Show? Did the NBC investigation uncover, explain, and apologize for that?
It couldn't look worse? How about if NBC critics discovered that the same bogus Zimmerman edit appeared three times in text stories at NBC Miami from March 19/20? Did the time constraints of television also create an unexplained pixel shortage? Did NBC's investigation uncover, explain and apologize for that?
It couldn't look worse? How about if the three NBC Miami stories from March 19/20 were "updated" on April 9, the day after critics pointed them out, to eliminate the bogus Zimmerman text? Did NBC's investigation explain and apologize for that?
Sounds like a story, right! Right? Wrong. Mr. Wemple is now taking Brent Bozell to task for "rooting for the story" and calling for a Congressional investigation. Are readers trying to find any mention by Mr. Wemple of the fact that NBC's transgressions go well beyond their investigation and apology? They can, if they click on Mr. Wemple's third link in which he describe Mr. Bozell as "gone activist". Mr. Wemple then highlights the Bozell press release without noting the lead:
Alexandria, VA – Today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell announces the media watchdog is calling upon Congress to investigate Comcast / NBC News for the intentional editing of the George Zimmerman audio that was broadcast multiple times and subsequently flamed the fires of racial hatred and animosity:
The word "multiple" serves as a clue there, which is probably why it was skipped.
Nowhere in his extensive text at that post or in this quick summary does Mr. Wemple find time for a sentence noting that NBC used the bogus edit five times but has only apologized and "explained" one instance. In fact, the latest Wemple summary points the other way:
In case you missed it---NewsBusters, the Web arm of the conservative Media Research Center, has done strong work on the NBC Zimmerman tape-editing fiasco. It was the first to spot the gaffe and kept following the story as it developed. Then it lapsed into rooting for it.
"The gaffe"? How about "The gaffes", plural? Only the most diligent of readers will crack this code.
There was a time when journalists thought the cover-up was as important as the crime. Now, the NBC cover-up seems to be the signal to ignore the crime.
STILL, HE DESERVES A PROFILE IN COURAGE: Mr. Wemple is at least acknowledging that there is an NBC story out there, even as he minimizes it. By way of contrast, Brian Stelter, media lapdog at the NY Times, broke the story of the firing of an NBC producer and has stayed away from this since.
I do worry that Mr. Wemple will take a lesson from this and conclude that it is safest to stay a million miles away from these troglodyte righties even if that means also staying 999,000 miles from the truth. It's working for Stelter!