MSNBC was banned from the Wisconsin courthouse where the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has been taking place on Thursday, after Judge Bruce Schroeder, who has been presiding, cited the behavior of a freelance producer who allegedly followed a van transporting the jury and subsequently received several traffic citations from police.
The Kenosha, Wis., Police Department said the producer was briefly taken into custody Wednesday night and issued traffic citations. Schroeder said the producer ran a red light and told authorities that he was instructed to follow the jury van. Police suspected that the producer was trying to photograph jurors, but no photos were obtained.
“Last night a person who is alleging to be affiliated with a national media outlet was briefly taken into custody and issued several traffic related citations. Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further. There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained,” the police said in a statement. “This investigation remains active and open, no further information.”
In a statement, NBC News denied that the producer intended to take photos of the jurors, and said it is cooperating with the investigation.
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them. We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation,” NBC News said.
On Thursday, Schroeder said in court that nobody from MSNBC is allowed in the courthouse. But he did not appear to take into account that much of what MSNBC broadcasts during a significant portion of its daytime hours is newsgathering from a broader swath of staffers who work for NBC News. MSNBC’s coverage is not likely to be disrupted unless the judge were to enact a wider ruling about who can cover the trial.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Schroeder said. “This is a very serious matter and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely it would go without much thinking that someone who is following a jury bus, that is an extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
“No one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building.”
— Judge Schroeder bans MSNBC journalists from the courthouse after reports that they followed the Rittenhouse jury bus, although he admits "I don't know what the ultimate truth of it is." pic.twitter.com/lCtKHPPDTN
— The Recount (@therecount) November 18, 2021
Rittenhouse is on trial for killing two people and wounding one more during the summer 2020 protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. He faces five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and the jury is in its third day of deliberation after the two-week trial.