Zimmerman’s attorney, James Beasley Jr., identified not just negligent reporting by NBC, but apologies the network made acknowledging problems in the four broadcasts. The editing made it sound like Zimmerman voluntarily told an operator that Martin was black. He was actually responding to a dispatcher’s question about the Miami teen’s race. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
NBC apologized on April 3, 2012, for “an error in the production process” and fired a reporter and a producer afterward.
Beasley accused NBC of “manipulating Zimmerman’s own words.” The edited recordings included multiple deletions and removal of some of the dialogue between Zimmerman and the dispatcher.
Attorneys for NBC also argued that Zimmerman was both a “limited purpose” public figure and an “involuntary” public figure when the broadcasts occurred. Defamation law gives news organizations wide protections when covering public figures, who must prove that the news organization acted with malice and knowledge that the allegations were false.