It’s time for NBC News to appoint an independent ethics watchdog
Those of us in the blogosphere who were around during the CBS News/Rathergate scandal remember how the narrative arc went:
*CBS perpetuated journalistic fraud.
*Conservative bloggers and alternative media called out Dan Rather and his con artist producer Mary Mapes for their malpractice.
*CBS denied and delayed addressing the hoax.
*The mainstream media tried to shoot the messenger and discredit critics of CBS/Rather.
*The evidence of bias was overwhelming — forcing CBS to appoint an independent review panel that concluded that the network “failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece,” was “rigid and blind” in its defense, and demonstrated “myopic zeal” in its manufacturing of the Bush/National Guard fraud. After the report was issued, Mapes and three executives were fired and the editorial practices at CBs were revamped.
History now repeats itself.
NBC News has attempted to deny, whitewash, and Friday news dump its way out of Editgate. Thanks to Breitbart.com, Newsbusters.org, Sean Hannity, and the conservative blogosphere, the story’s not going away.
Scapegoating an anonymous producer won’t do.
See Les Jones and Tom Maguire for the latest:
When everyone from actor Don Cheadle to liberal lawyer/blogger Jeralyn Merritt is questioning the network’s mishandling of the Editgate aftermath, it’s time for the network to put it in someone else’s hands:
So the first article with the bad edit was by Christina Hernandez, Jeff Burnside and Edward B. Colby on March 19. Christina Hernandez is also the author of the article I found published later that night, while Jeff Burnside is the author of the March 20 article. The Today show segments aired March 22 and March 27.
As of today, Jeff Burnside still has a bio at NBC 6 Miami. Edward B. Colby does not, although maybe he never did. Does he work for NBC or is he a free-lancer or AP reporter? It’s hard to tell. This February 12, 2012 article says it is written “By NBC Miami’s Jeff Burnside and Edward B. Colby and MSNBC Staff.” This February 23 article has the byline “Edward B. Colby, NBC Miami.”And while the Associated Press is also credited on the article Colby co-authored on Zimmerman, he wrote a lot for NBC 6 Miami — a search of its website shows more than 155 articles written or co-written by Colby.
Christina Hernandez is still listed on NBC 6 Miami’s website, as is her March 19 article, Father of Teen Shot in Sanford Working “To Bring Justice For My Son”, with the mangled, distorted edit of the call:
In his call to 911, Zimmerman said, “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. He looks black.”
So the blatant, racially charged distortion of George Zimmerman’s 911 call started on NBC 6 Miami on March 19, appearing in two articles by three different writers. It was repeated on March 20 in an article attributed to one of the three writers. The articles have been updated, but the quotes remain. The mis-quote aired on the Today Show on March 22 during a live segment with reporter Lilia Luciano, and again on March 27 with reporter Ron Allen.
For NBC and MSNBC to characterize the error as a single episode caused by a producer’s time constraints in getting a video clip ready for live morning television, which just unfortunately happened to be missed by layers of editorial control, is not very convincing.
Perhaps Dick Thornburgh, the well-respected, former GOP Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Attorney General under Bush I who chaired the independent CBS Rathergate investigation (his 234-page report in PDF is here), would consider the job.