Media frenzy: Reporters swarm San Bernardino shooters’ apartment
A flock of journalists armed with broadcast cameras entered the Redlands, California apartment where Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik lived on Friday, after a reporter unfastened a piece of plywood blocking the door that had been placed there by the FBI. He said that he had permission from the landlord.
@acecloss Yep. I unscrewed the board on the front door the FBI had put on. With the permission of the landlord, who was beside me.— Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden) December 4, 2015
News outlets like MSNBC, CNN, BBC and CBS news broadcast live scenes as their crews poured into the apartment. Reporters rummaged through the items of the now-dead suspects, including family photos, children’s toys and personal documents.
One MSNBC reporter even went as far as to show the detailed image of an ID card belonging to Farook’s mother, on live television.
MSNBC just doxed Rafia Farook, mother of a terrorist, on live television. I've blurred the important bits. pic.twitter.com/VqPwT60yVY— David Boles (@DavidBoles) December 4, 2015
“These are photographs here the family has,” MSNBC reported Kerry Sanders said, rifling through a stack of family photos.
While the San Bernardino Police Department had initially said that the apartment was still an active crime scene, it was later revealed that the investigation was turned over to the FBI, who had cleared the apartment of evidence.
“We executed a search warrant on that apartment, and last night we turned that over back to the [landlord],” said David Bowdich, assistant director at the FBI field office in Los Angeles. “Once we turn that location back over to the occupants of that residence or once we board it up, anyone who goes in at that point, that’s got nothing to do with us.”
Reporters were later removed from the apartment, though the circumstances of the expulsion were not clear.
And just like that, reporters have been flushed from the apartment pic.twitter.com/67MYGvHbRi— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) December 4, 2015
The apartment’s landlord was originally reported to have let media inside, but claims to have been “rushed” by journalists.
CNN reporters said that the landlord was escorted away from the premises by law enforcement and put into a car.
CNN reporters outside San Bernardino killers' home says landlord was escorted away by law enforcement, put into unmarked vehicle— Jon Passantino (@passantino) December 4, 2015
The coverage of the suspects’ apartment caused widespread outrage on Twitter, with some users questioning the journalistic ethics of showing photographs and personal information of people associated with terrorists.
MSNBC yesterday: Stop implicating all Muslims in terrorism! MSNBC today: Here are some pictures of Muslims we found in a terrorist’s house.— Andrew Stiles (@AndrewStilesUSA) December 4, 2015
Does MSNBC realize there might be real world consequences for the folks who are being shown, in conjunction w/ terrorists, on national tv?— Sara Lang (@SaraLang) December 4, 2015
RT's Tabetha Wallace also questioned the legality of the mainstream media's actions.
More than one user drew comparison between the sensational behavior of the media and ‘Nightcrawler,’ a movie about a sociopathic and exploitative broadcast journalist starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
MSNBC's really nailing this NIGHTCRAWLER cosplay.— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) December 4, 2015
EXCLUSIVE: Photo of guy who let the entire media into active crime scene inside the terrorist's apartment. pic.twitter.com/y2GHWOrdJU— Seymour Sludgeworth (@SSludgeworth) December 4, 2015
MSNBC later apologized for showing identifying information and photographs on air.