NBC News was blasted online after issuing what many critics considered an unbelievable explanation for why a freelance journalist was issued a citation by police for traffic violations as he allegedly attempted to follow a van carrying jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial in Kenosha, Wis.
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them,” NBC News noted in a statement regarding the MSNBC freelancer, according to a tweet from CNN media analyst Brian Stelter.
“We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation,” the network added, according to Stelter.
Previous reports said that James Morrison was stopped by police after running a stoplight as he attempted to follow the van. Police issued him several citations for various traffic infractions after claiming he was “trying to photograph jurors.”
Subsequently, Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is overseeing the Rittenhouse trial, banned MSNBC from his courtroom over the incident.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Schroeder said.
full clip with info and msnbc banned pic.twitter.com/fKevXHQu6I
— oak_tree_upheaval (@oaktreeupheaval) November 18, 2021
“This is a very serious matter. I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is … but someone following a jury bus is an extremely serious matter, and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action,” he added.
Several social media users responded with incredulity to NBC News’ response.
Just following them for fun? https://t.co/Z1bIeYRzgA
— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsKY) November 18, 2021
Full intent on seeing the jurors and contacting them after deliberations. Given the media’s generally grotesque coverage of this trial, at what point does such behavior amount to intimidation? https://t.co/WcmEhppaPE
— Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) November 18, 2021
This is not a denial; it’s a confirmation https://t.co/drqRa4NSK4
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) November 18, 2021
Well, to his credit, Brian tweeted this.
Questions for NBC: why was he near the jury van? How far from the courthouse? Was he following it? Has he or anyone else from NBC/MSNBC followed the van before? How often? Any photos? Taken down license numbers of jurors’ cars?
— Jonathan Miles (@Jmiles1749) November 18, 2021
If NBC is directing his movements/actions and paying him for those movements/actions then he is working for NBC, regardless of whether they are giving him benefits or not.
— Hulk Smash (@LTJGHilliker) November 18, 2021
Obviously misleading and dishonest statement by @NBCNews. https://t.co/7FcXqwn2wN
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) November 18, 2021
Closing arguments in the trial wrapped up earlier this week after Schroeder sided with the defense and agreed to toss out a misdemeanor charge against Rittenhouse for illegally possessing a firearm.
He still faces five counts of murder and reckless endangerment for killing two men and wounding a third the night of Aug. 25, 2020, as riots and unrest swept through Kenosha following a police shooting of a local black man, Jacob Blake.
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