"This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." That's what George Zimmerman appeared to say after an NBC News edit of a segment on March 27. Today Zimmerman filed a lawsuit against the network because he says NBC made him look like a "hostile racist." Now, it's important to remember that Zimmerman isn't suing for the network's coverage of the larger Trayvon Martin saga — Zimmerman, of course, followed and killed an unarmed, black 17-year-old, which to a lot of people in this country seemed like something a "hostile racist" might do. No, Zimmerman's suit entirely focuses on his accusation that NBC manipulated his 911 call.
Here's how Zimmerman sounded on the segment:
"This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black."
And this is the original call (per The New York Times's Brian Stelter):
On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “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, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”
See that? Zimmerman was prompted for the black comment. And taking that out is a major no-no — NBC appeared to realize this when it fired a producer related to that edit in April. And Zimmerman and his lawyers realized this, too.
"He's suing for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, demanding unspecified damages," reports TMZ, adding that Zimmerman is accusing NBC of "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." Zimmerman was threatening a lawsuit early last month.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.