Twenty-year TV news veteran Jeff Burnside was fired by the NBC affiliate in Miami over the editing of a news tape used on the Today show in the onset of the Trayvon Martin story, Gossip Extra has confirmed.
A WTVJ- NBC 6 insider tells me Burnside was involved with the editing of a news video that aired on Matt Lauer‘s Today show earlier this month and made killing suspect George Zimmerman look like a racist.
“The official line from NBC 6 is that Jeff’s contract was up and wasn’t renewed,” the source said. “However, most people here know full well it had to do with Trayvon debacle.”
The website sfltv.com today reports that several other people at the Broward-based station were grilled about the incident, but most of the blame was assigned to Burnside and an unidentified producer fired two weeks ago.
The tape’s editing cut out the audio from a police dispatcher talking on the phone to neighborhood watchman Zimmerman as he followed Miami teen Martin.
The dispatcher asked Zimmerman about Martin’s race. But in the tape that aired on Today, the cut made it appear that Zimmerman said: “This guy (Martin) is up to no good. He looks black.”
The Trayvon Martin killing eventually ignited racial tension in the central Florida town of Sanford. Zimmerman was arrested last week and charged with second degree murder.
Burnside didn’t respond to several text messages and his cell phone isn’t accepting calls. Station officials aren’t talking.
The producer of the segment was fired by WTVJ April 5.
Burnside, meanwhile, is a generally well-respected newsman who usually concentrates on stories about the environment. His Facebook page mentions he is supposed to receive a journalist-of-the-year award from the Environmental Coalition of Miami & The Beaches in June.