Jon Stewart Rips NBC’s Dishonest Zimmerman 911 Edit: ‘You Screwed Up’

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart surprisingly took on NBC News Monday for the network’s dishonest editing of George Zimmerman’s 911 call regarding Trayvon Martin.

Less shocking, the Daily Show host also took some punches at conservatives for how they handled this story including Media Research Center president Brent Bozell (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

After showing what the edit was, as well as video clips of outraged Fox News hosts, Stewart said, “What the hell? NBC, you cut out the 911 dispatcher’s question. Zimmerman was answering a multiple choice question. You make it sound like he was calling 911 to report aggravated blackness. Your edit changed everything about that.”

To demonstrate the absurdity, Stewart showed video clips of Jeopardy! contestants asking questions without Alex Trebek first giving them the answers.

“Now I think Jeopardy! contestants are just morons,” exclaimed Stewart, “just like people who watch the Today show probably think George Zimmerman’s now a big racist because of the way that was edited.”

After playing a clip of Fox News’s Jon Scott relaying NBC’s feeble explanation that the decision to edit Zimmerman’s call was “a bad mistake but not a deliberate one,” Stewart quipped, “He must have just hit the ‘Remove Context’ button. You screwed up.”

Yes NBC News did, and we’re very pleased Stewart – unlike so many of his liberal colleagues – took the time to acknowledge what Bozell and the MRC have been saying since the story was first broken by NewsBusters last month.

But Stewart should have ended there, for after spending less than two minutes describing the edit and rightly mocking NBC News, he abruptly changed course and devoted the next two minutes bashing conservatives.

Multiple video clips were aired of Fox News anchors and contributors including Bozell expressing outrage about the edit. The first one Stewart specifically went after was Judith Miller.

“Okay, now you just blew it,” scolded Stewart, “because if there's one person who is an expert on journalists doctoring their facts to push a preconceived narrative, that lady Judy Miller. Remember her? New York Times reporter, ten years ago ran story after story on Iraq’s quest to obtain WMDs, stories which turned out to be WM wrong. It’s funny because we invaded Iraq.”

So, NBC News’s dishonest edit of a 911 call was cause for Stewart to attack a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who not only was a victim of an anthrax-laced letter attack in 2001, but also spent three months in jail in 2005 to protect her sources within the CIA.

But that was just the beginning, for after playing a clip of Miller saying, “Another issue is the fact that this was NBC which did this, and MSNBC has been really a kind of promoter of the Trayvon as victim theme,” Stewart rudely quipped, “Yes, while we promote the ‘Got what he deserved' theme.”

How disgusting. After acknowledging that NBC News was wrong to edit a 911 call that made Zimmerman look racist, Stewart falsely claimed Fox News was racist by promoting a theme that Martin “got what he deserved.”

The Daily Show host for some reason missed his own hypocrisy here, and doubled down by setting his sights on Bozell.


“What it comes down to is this: NBC's edited tape assigned a motive to George Zimmerman that may not have been there at all, and that was wrong,” claimed Stewart. “We don't know why Zimmerman did what he did, and they never should have put that tape out there. Just like we don't know why the NBC producer who got fired did what he or she did.”

This was followed by multiple clips of Bozell on Fox News speculating about the reasons for this dishonest edit including, “They doctored a tape so they could advance the narrative that Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because it was racially motivated…This was deliberately done…Sean, this isn't distortion. This isn't bias. This isn't distortion. This is an all-out falsehood by NBC News…This is a media lynch mob.”

After the clips, Stewart said like a child on an elementary school playground, “Takes one to know one.”

Unfortunately, it seems that Stewart appears to have been unable to grasp the point. To say NBC's false edit was deliberately done is not a statement from him that NBC is intentionally trying to foment a race war. They're completely separate things; one can do the former without doing the latter. To imply that they are the same thing is a gross distortion. And you don't need to distort the truth like Stewart to understand that.

Stewart also seems to have missed the part where NBC admitted that the producer whom it fired for creating the fake audio clip did so deliberately. The network insists that he/she did not do so nefariously (something no one can believe or disbelieve since we don't know the name of the individual) but it still believes the edit was a deliberate action.

Despite his errors and bringing in irrelevant information, we're still pleased NBC's mistake was serious enough for Stewart to expose to his viewers. That's more than you can say for NBC itself which hasn't talked on-air about its disgraceful conduct.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.