On Friday afternoon, two days after the San Bernardino shootings, MSNBC aired live inside the San Bernardino suspects' apartment. It streamed live to anybody who wanted to watch it, and it drew a massive amount of criticism from observers on social media, many of whom seemed to consider the spectacle irresponsible and sensationalist. The apartment was previously occupied by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the slain married couple who are the central suspects in the San Bernardino shooting. It wasn't solely MSNBC, either — reporters from CNN and Fox were also reportedly on the scene. Update: In a statement to Bustle, MSNBC said that the apartment owner allowed the press inside the apartment "after law enforcement officials had finished examining the site and returned control to the landlord." It noted that it regretted some of the live shots.
As Mashable detailed, it's especially startling to see the media descend on the apartment considering that the investigation is so fresh, and still ongoing. They were reportedly let into the property by the landlord, who removed a plywood panel from the front door with a crowbar.
Once inside, the journalists began rifling through, well, basically everything — the refrigerator, the bathroom, the closets, looking for anything or interest or relative news value. Ultimately, however, the scene revealed very little, and it's possible that the very decision to go live from within the apartment, and in such a crowded fashion, will the be enduring headline from all this. It also wasn't entirely clear how on-board the authorities were with the decision — while some viewers reported seeing members of the FBI outside the apartment during the scrum, the Los Angeles FBI told Mashable's Brian Ries Friday morning that they "don't believe" the scene was open.
Needless to say, a whole lot of folks on Twitter were less than thrilled about this — whether the entry was officially sanctioned by law enforcement authorities or not, some critics have accused the coverage of being inappropriate, lacking journalistic merit, and potentially compromising an ongoing investigation.
In fact, one of MSNBC's own on-air talents even voiced her displeasure — Melissa Harris-Perry, host of the cable news channel's eponymous weekend mornings show Melissa Harris-Perry, who tweeted that "corporate ownership has consequences."
It's now being reported, however, that the FBI's search was over prior to the landlord allowing the media inside — the question was even posed to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, and he directed all questions to the bureau.