Early in the day Friday, reporters and photographers for cable news networks CNN and MSNBC, as well as other media outlets, waited like a pack of wild dogs for the apartment of Syed Farook and his wife to be opened up to them so they could rummage through what had just been a crime scene. The landlord of the building where the San Bernardino shooters lived gave access to the media shortly after the FBI had turned the apartment back over to him. Apparently, it was no longer an active crime scene and the FBI no longer needed to collect evidence from the dwelling.
Let’s just gloss over how odd it is that the FBI, in the midst of investigating a mass shooting that appears to be related to radical terrorism, decided to just turn over the apartment to the landlord roughly 48 hours after the murders occurred. (Seriously, though?) The worst part of the whole thing is the feeding frenzy perpetrated by our fourth estate and the complete shredding of any and all journalistic, or basic human, ethics.
Shortly after the plywood that was nailed to the door was pried off, the reporters and camera people on the scene rushed inside, hoping to get that super awesome scoop for their respective channels. Both CNN and MSNBC were shooting live video as their people on the scene rummaged through personal belongings, hoping to get a glimpse of some up close TERRORISM.
Rock bottom was reached when an MSNBC reporter, live on the air, showed a driver’s license directly to the camera. (This was followed up with a Social Security card.) Of course, the license wasn’t of any of the dead shooters. No, it was of the mother of Syed Farook. Yep, MSNBC fucking doxxed an innocent woman. (The below image has had pertinent info blurred.)
The criticism of the way the media handled this whole thing was quick and harsh. (Especially for MSNBC.) Besides numerous publications, such as Mother Jones and Gawker, calling out the networks, many journalists and critics took to Twitter to express their outrage over the sordid affair.
Thanks, MSNBC, for another reason-to-hate-the-media moment. Journalism is harder than ideology. https://t.co/tCd0M2ZcrW
— David Zurawik (@davidzurawik) December 4, 2015
So FBI now investigating as terrorism. They’ll undoubtedly find some CNN and MSNBC fingerprints on the walls. Go get them, guys. — Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) December 4, 2015
After showing pic of the child to the national audience, MSNBC reporter: “actually, it’s probably not that child. It says (name) on back.”
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 4, 2015
Thoughts and prayers with MSNBC’s legal office. — Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) December 4, 2015
CNN and MSNBC put lives of innocent people, including children, at stake and destroyed a crime scene. For WHAT? Everyone lost their minds?
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) December 4, 2015
That final comment from activist DeRay McKesson sums up the entire shitty adventure to a tee. The networks didn’t have any ‘breaking news,’ so they just caused chaos and created their own news. Now, the networks are the story, at least until the FBI dishes out another juicy little nugget.
Journalism is dead.
UPDATE: MSNBC released a statement Friday afternoon apologizing for showing ID cards and other sensitive information:
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. 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.