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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  April 3, 2012
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Topic category:  Partisan Politics

Now NBC's Doing Deceptive Redacting. It Must Stop.

Whether it is intended to show racial profiling, as the NBC example appeared to be, or an attempt to simplify and save time, as the Team O'Reilly example appeared to be, it must stop.

There should be no place in news reporting for deceptive redacting.

After all, they are supposed to be news reports, not political advertising.

Erik Wemple, in "NBC to do ‘internal investigation’ on Zimmerman segment" (www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/nbc-to-do-internal-investigation-on-zimmerman-segment/2012/03/31/gIQAc4HhnS_blog.html?hpid=z6) recently reported: "NBC told this blog today that it would investigate its handling of a piece on the “Today” show that ham-handedly abridged the conversation between George Zimmerman and a dispatcher in the moments before the death of Trayvon Martin."

Ham-handed: "Lacking dexterity or skill; clumsy" (/www.thefreedictionary.com/ham-handmplempled).

Kudos to Fox News and Newsbusters for calling attention to the deceptive NBC editing of the Zimerman audio tape.

NBC version: "Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black."

Actual audio tape:

"Zimmerman: 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.

"Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

"Zimmerman: He looks black.

Wemple: "The difference between what 'Today' put on its air and the actual tape? Complete: In the 'Today' version, Zimmerman volunteered that this person 'looks black,' a sequence of events that would more readily paint Zimmerman as a racial profiler. In reality’s version, Zimmerman simply answered a question about the race of the person whom he was reporting to the police. Nothing prejudicial at all in responding to such an inquiry."

Wemple's right about that, but is he right about describing the tape editing as "ham-handed"?

Was it really the opposite of ham-handed?

Was it intended to create a false impression?

On Fox News’s “Hannity,” Brent Bozell, president of Media Research Center, called this elision on the part of ”Today” an “all-out falsehood.”

Wemple added: "...it’s a falsehood with repercussions. Much of the public discussion over the past week has settled on how conflicting facts and interpretations call into question whether Zimmerman acted justifiably or criminally. That’s a process that’ll continue. But one set of facts in the is ironclad, and that’s the back-and-forth between Zimmerman and the dispatcher. To portray that exchange in a way that wrongs Zimmerman is high editorial malpractice well worthy of the investigation that NBC is now mounting."

That misses the big question.

Malpractice refers to negligence or misconduct by a professional person (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/malpractice).

Was it negligence or misconduct?

THAT is the big question, and especially after the Tawana Brawley and Duke lacrosse "no rape" cases, it's a question that must be asked.

Unfortunately, whether intentional or merely negligence, redaction can create or seem to create a misimpression and that can have enormous repercussions.

In 2009, it was Team Bill O'Reilly that did that kind of editing, with the tape of New York Times national correspondent Stephanie Strom telling ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief that "higher up' had made her "stand down" on a pre-election day 2008 Obama/ACORN/Project Vote expose.

I wrote about that in "Missing seconds from the explosive audiotape played on 'The O'Reilly Factor'" (www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/090403), as follows:

"When it comes to exposing bias and blatant news management, I'm all for it.

"But the antidote to bias and blatant news management is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, not concealing facts, lying or...redacting a significant part of a message.

"'The O'Reilly Factor' redacted part of the voicemail message that New York Times national correspondent Stephanie Strom left for ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief on October 21, 2008 and 'The O'Reilly Factor' broadcast on April 1, 2009.

"'The O'Reilly Factor,' NOT Ms. MonCrief.

"Through attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, Ms. MonCrief provided to 'The O'Reilly Factor' not only the entire voicemail, but also extensive email correspondence between Ms. Strom and Ms. MonCrief.

"In 'New York Times Cover Up to Protect Obama No April Fool's Joke!', posted on April 1, 2009, I set forth what 'The O'Reilly Factor' presented as a transcript of the voicemail, as follows:

'Hi, Anita. It's Stephanie. I have just been asked by my bosses to stand down...they want me to hold off on coming to Washington [to meet with Anita]. Sorry, I take my orders from higher up...ah...sometimes.

'Anyway, umm...I'm sorry about this and we'll still be in touch. Take care. And let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. Take care. Bye-bye.'

"I noticed Internet reference to redaction and called that to Ms. MonCrief's attention.

"Ms. MonCrief checked, discovered that there had been redaction, transcribed the voicemail herself and emailed me as follows:

'Mr. Gaynor,

'Here is the part that is missing. It was cut right after the "stand down" part. I have been working to make sure that audio will be available soon. Thanks in advance for your time.

'"Ah, we're running a story tonight for tomorrow that, ah, pretty well lays out the partisanship problems that Project Vote may have, ah, based on a report that I got. So, ah, they think that going to do, — that's going to be the story about the partisanship issue, and so they want me to hold off on coming to Washington.'

"That story, by Ms. Strom, is titled 'Acorn Report Raises Issues of Illegality' and was published on October 21, 2008. Here's a link: www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/us22acorn.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.

"Ms. MonCrief also reiterated to me that in a subsequent telephone conversation Ms. Strom told her that her editors wanted her to kill the story because 'it was a game changer.'

"It may well have been and apparently those editors feared it would be.

"But let the whole truth prevail!

"Expect the whole audio to be available online by Monday, April 6, thanks to Ms. MonCrief."

Team O'Reilly's foolish redaction allowed the Left to distract from what The New York Times had done to what Team O'Reilly had done.

In court, witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Both NBC and Fox News should do the same.

Whether it is intended to show racial profiling, as the NBC example appeared to be, or an attempt to simplify and save time, as the Team O'Reilly example appeared to be, it must stop.

Michael J. Gaynor

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Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.


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Copyright © 2012 by Michael J. Gaynor
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