MSNBC and CNN were heavily criticized on social media on Friday as they showed live footage inside the apartment of the shooters who killed 14 people and injured 21 others in San Bernardino on Wednesday.
The news networks say that the landlord of the apartment allowed them in, but concerns were immediately raised over whether the reporters were interfering with an active crime investigation scene, one in which links to terrorism were being investigated. MSNBC reported that the landlord opened up the apartment to the media.
An FBI official also confirmed that they had concluded the investigation at the scene and no longer had control over it.
“We’ve concluded our search last night,” said a spokeswoman. “When we’re done with searches, we turn the property back over to the residents/owners. This is routine.”
The networks showed footage of the room where the attackers, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, kept their baby. At one point, MSNBC’s Andra Mitchell said that reporter Kerry Sanders should stop showing footage of children. Also displayed was a calendar and ID cards of family members.
A CNN reporter pointed to prayer books on the bed in one of the rooms.
“I’m having chills down my spine with what I’m seeing here,” analyst Harry Houck said on CNN as the images were being shown. “This apartment clearly is full of evidence.”
Other reporters from print and TV outlets also were in the apartment. The Los Angeles Times reported that neighbors also showed up and were walking through the apartment.
The reaction was swift on social media.
“So many questions. seems a massive failure of two vital institutions — media and law enforcement,” tweeted Wesley Lowery, national reporter for the Washington Post.
“It’s a good thing those TV reporters ransacking someone’s house are real journalists, not like those Reddit creeps,” wrote Mathew Ingram, senior writer at Fortune.
It's a good thing those TV reporters ransacking someone's house are real journalists, not like those Reddit creeps
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) December 4, 2015
— Erika Masonhall (@ErikaMasonhall) December 4, 2015
CNN said in a statement, “CNN, like many other news organizations, was granted access to the home by the landlord. 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.”
Update: Building owner Doyle Miller said at a press conference that the media “rushed” into the Redlands apartment after access was opened, but that he gave permission to open it up. He said that the FBI had told him that they had “turned everything over” in the crime scene.
At a press conference, FBI assistant director David Bowdich told reporters that they had executed a search warrant at the apartment, but had released it back to the residents and no longer had “control” over the scene.
“Once we turn the location back over…anyone who goes in that has nothing to do with us,” he said.
MSNBC issued a later statement.
“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.”