After Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, a manhunt swiftly turned up two married suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. They were located at their apartment, which they fled, and police gunned down the heavily armed suspects. Authorities subsequently searched the apartment and found an arsenal of pipe bombs, guns, and ammunition. They also noted a missing hard drive and two crushed cell phones.
Two days later, the investigation is not yet complete, but MSNBC, CBSN, and CNN found access to the apartment and delivered an on-air tour. This is a bizarre approach from a cable news station, and we may soon see other media outlets criticizing this tactic. Today’s fuss began when the shooters’ landlord invited the media into the apartment. These actions will affect the chain of custody of any evidence not yet gathered in this crime scene.
Twitter lit up in disbelief, and much of the furor began with a series of tweets from Matthew Keys of Grasswire (formerly of Reuters) and Brian Ries of Mashable.
MSNBC also aired an uncensored ID of one of the shooter’s mothers. This tweet blurs out any identifying information.
CNN justified its presence in the apartment by saying the police could stop them, but…
Then someone walked out of the apartment with a popsicle.
As if this situation wasn’t unreal enough, the pilfering does not appear to be limited to members of the press. CNN reports “a woman with a dog” waltzing through the scene.
Neighbors of the shooters also showed up (not with casseroles in hand).
One Twitter user pointed out how CNN both criticized and embraced the spectacle. The network claimed they wouldn’t show any IDs, and then they zoomed right on in. Here’s a clip of Anderson Cooper and law enforcement analyst Harry Houck discussing how icky they feel about what
their network the media is doing.
Reactions include some contextual praise for Brian Williams (at least he didn’t do this), shame from a fellow journalist, and general disgust.
Naturally, MSNBC has opened itself up to a host of parody tweets, too.