Viewers of multiple cable outlets such as MSNBC and CNN witnessed disturbing footage of reporters going through personal items at the home of the San Bernardino shooting suspects, leading to an apology from MSNBC.
Over one hundred reporters, including MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders, entered the home of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple accused of taking the lives of 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino.
Reporters claimed the FBI cleared the home and the landlord allowed them inside.
Reporter Toby Harden confirmed he was given permission to enter the home.
Reporters from multiple outlets were seen looking at baby photos, identification cards, through trash cans, and other items. Sanders told viewers he didn’t know who the ID and social security cards belonged to, but held them up to the camera to show viewers. It was later confirmed the identification belonged to Farook’s mother.
A woman was also seen walking with a young man into the home, while another possible non-media person was seen in the house with her dog. In addition to journalists on Twitter shaming the media for unethical reporting, CNN analysts didn’t hold back during their own live broadcast.
LA Times reports:
“You have a contaminated crime scene now,” CNN legal analyst Paul Callan told host Wolf Blitzer.
“They’ve turned a crime scene in a terrorist mass murder into a garage sale.” In a suitably weird twist, Callan was making his comments as CNN was airing a split screen with footage from inside the home, showing laundry baskets, documents, toys and other personal effects.
“There’s a woman with a dog, walking through the house,” CNN correspondent Victor Blackwell marveled on air, adding that nearby police and FBI officers made no attempt to stop news crews from shooting video inside and sifting through passports and papers.
MSNBC released an apology shortly after the backlash, but assured viewers they were not the first to enter the home.
MSNBC and other news organizations were invited into the home by the landlord after law enforcement officials had finished examining the site and returned control to the landlord,” a statement from a network spokesperson read.
“Although MSNBC was not the first crew to enter the home, we did have the first live shots from inside.
We regret that we briefly showed images of photographs and identification cards that should not have been aired without review,” the network said.
CNN also released a statement about the live coverage:
“CNN, like many other news organizations, was granted access to the home by the landlord,” the network said in a statement. “We made a conscious editorial decision not to show close-up footage of any material that could be considered sensitive or identifiable, such as photos or ID cards.”
According to the New York Times, the FBI also announced during a press conference that the investigation is currently being treated as a case of terrorism. David Bowdich, assistant FBI director in charge of the Los Angeles office, said multiple pieces of evidence has proven the case should be viewed as a possible act of terror. One of Malik’s Facebook posts showed her devotion to the Islamic State, from which officials believe the couple drew inspiration.
The suspects left behind 12 pipe bombs and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition in their home. A motive has not been found for the shooting.
Currently, at least 10 of the 21 injured are listed in critical condition.