NBC News President Admits Network Should Have Corrected on Air the Falsely Edited Zimmerman 911 Call
In a stunning admission to the New York Time's David Carr on Monday, NBC News president Steve Capus confessed that the network made a mistake in not issuing a correction on air for falsely editing a 911 call by accused Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman: "The reality is that we didn't try to hide from it...I did interviews with a lot of publications to get the message out, but we probably should have done it on our own air."
Carr related his conversation with Capus to readers: "Mr. Capus said that they were so busy cleaning up the mess 'inside our own halls,' that they neglected to loop in the audience. In that sense, the process was probably too 'self-reflective,' he added." Just a note to Mr. Capus, NBC can still issue a correction on air at any time.
Media Research Center president Brent Bozell demanded NBC News make an on-air correction on the April 6 edition of Media Mash on FNC's Hannity: "How about doing it on the air, maybe just, you know, say, whoops, we were wrong." The MRC rejected NBC's initial paper statement apologizing for the false reporting.
In his Monday article, Carr detailed how he confronted Capus on the matter:
I called Steve Capus...prepared to do battle over the lack of on-air remediation. Even though Mr. Capus had personally investigated the error, issued two statements on the matter, taken disciplinary action against six employees and led a series of meetings to remind people of best practices, nobody on the "Today" show had explained what happened, or apologized for it, to the audience.
That seemed wrong to me. A network's primary contract is with the viewers who tune in to its shows every day, one that is more important than any obligation it feels to journalistic pundits or Beltway politicos.
"You're probably right," Mr. Capus said right away.
Making a broader indictment of televised news coverage, Carr declared: "Part of the reason it didn't occur to them is that television news almost never corrects itself on air when it gets called out. It just isn't generally done, unless it's needed to make a lawsuit go away."
Carr concluded: "Give NBC credit for dealing with a big error that threatened to sow further mayhem on a very delicate story. It's just too bad it failed to remember that the fix for bad journalism generally includes more journalism. The kind that goes on the air."