On Friday afternoon, cable news networks CNN and MSNBC, along with other photographers and reporters, gained access to the home of the couple suspected of carrying out the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and injured 21. The rampage, which occurred only two days prior, has since been the subject of an FBI investigation for possible terrorism.
It’s still unknown exactly how the journalists gained entry into the apartment. (There remains some dispute around the role of the landlord on the scene.) Reporters could be seen going through children’s belongings and even holding up a driver’s license that appeared to belong to a family member of one of the suspects. The scene became an instant breaking news item, of blockbuster proportions:
One of CNN’s own security analysts, Harry Houck, appeared appalled by what he was watching live on air, even as CNN continued to show more footage from inside the house. “I’m having chills down my spine what I’m seeing here. This apartment is clearly full of evidence.” Watch his reaction below:
Door of #SanBernardino shooters’ home opened by owner. Media heading in. pic.twitter.com/4XQnNQemmY
— Victor Blackwell CNN (@VictorCNN) December 4, 2015
“Come over here, you can see the baby’s toys. We have really quite a number of toys.” pic.twitter.com/aQrtYN4ZtF
— Angelo Carusone (@GoAngelo) December 4, 2015
MSNBC just doxed Rafia Farook, mother of a terrorist, on live television. I’ve blurred the important bits. pic.twitter.com/VqPwT60yVY
— David Boles (@DavidBoles) December 4, 2015
CNN’s @StephanieElam now live inside the home now pic.twitter.com/qopH1aPp7s
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 4, 2015
CNN even chose to lead with a photo of what appears to be a crib from inside the house on the network’s homepage with this banner headline:
FBI sources tell CBS LA that the investigation at the house concluded Thursday.
UPDATE: FBI tells CBS News ‘search is over’ at Redlands home, ‘released the scene yesterday’ https://t.co/C0vQT0ZwXz #SanBernardinoShooting
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) December 4, 2015
Nonetheless, outrage was swift on social media:
CNN’s law enforcement analyst appears shocked by what CNN’s reporters (and other reporters) are doing.
— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) December 4, 2015
We are watching media made chaos in real-time as @CNN and @MSNBC rummage through the #SanBernadino suspect’s house.
— deray mckesson (@deray) December 4, 2015
What MSNBC is doing is nothing more than boosting ratings. Yet, we look to news orgs like them as the guardians of journalism. Please.
— Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) 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