(Corrects 9th graph to say Capus did not leave NBC)
* Lawsuit filed in court where Zimmerman will stand trial
* Suit says NBC saw tragedy as opportunity to boost ratings
MIAMI, Dec 6 A Florida man sued NBC on Thursday,
saying the network intentionally edited and repeatedly aired a
non-emergency phone call he made to police before shooting and
killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin "to create the
myth" that he was a racist.
Attorneys for George Zimmerman, who maintains he shot Martin
in self-defense in February during a struggle, said the lawsuit
seeking an undisclosed amount in damages was filed in the same
central Florida court where he will stand trial in June for
"NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as
an opportunity to increase ratings, so it set about to create
the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory
villain," the defamation lawsuit says.
"NBC created this false and defamatory misimpression using
the oldest form of yellow journalism: manipulating Zimmerman's
owns words, splicing together disparate parts of the (police)
recording to create the illusion of statements that Zimmerman
never actually made."
But NBC denied any wrongdoing in a statement issued late on
"We strongly disagree with accusations made in the
complaint. There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman
unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court,"
the statement said.
The edit in question, which aired on the network's flagship
"Today" morning show in April, made it appear that Zimmerman, a
neighborhood watch volunteer, told police that Martin was black
without being asked.
In fact, the full tape reveals that Zimmerman only did so
when responding to a question posed by a dispatcher.
NBC News president Steve Capus told Reuters in April that
the edit was a "mistake, not deliberate" misrepresentation.
Capus said at the time that a producer made the editing
error, and that the network's editorial controls - including
senior broadcast producer oversight, script editors and often
legal and standards department reviews of sensitive material to
be broadcast - simply missed the selective editing of the phone
The network apologized to its viewers in a statement, and
two NBC news staffers named as defendants in the lawsuit were
But the complaint says the network never apologized to
Zimmerman "for deliberately portraying him as a hostile racist
who targeted Martin due to his race."
The misleading audio edit of the call led to significant
pressure on the network from critics who claimed it had
exacerbated already inflamed racial tension surrounding the
NBC News is part of NBC Universal Media, a unit of Comcast
(Reporting By Chris Francescani and Tom Brown; Editing by Tom
Brown and Philip Barbara)