MSNBC banned from Rittenhouse trial after freelancer suspected of tailing juror van
MSNBC has been banned from the courtroom for the duration of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wis., after a freelancer for the NBCUniversal-owned news channel was cited for a traffic incident Wednesday near the van carrying jurors.
Bruce Schroeder, the presiding judge in the case who has been critical of some of the media coverage, revealed the ban Thursday from the bench of the courtroom where Rittenhouse is standing trial for the murder of two people during a 2020 civil disturbance in Kenosha.
Schroeder said a car driven by James Morrison, who identified himself as an employee of MSNBC, was stopped by police after allegedly violating a traffic control signal. He had been driving about a block behind the van that transports the jurors from the courthouse.
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Schroeder said Morrison was under the supervision of a manager at NBC News in New York who allegedly asked him to follow the jurors.
A person familiar with Morrison’s employment status who is not authorized to comment publicly said Morrison works for MSNBC as a freelance booker.
Schroeder called it a “very serious matter” and said that it will be “referred to upper authorities for further action.”
In a tweet Thursday morning, the Kenosha Police Department said, “Last night a person who is alleging to be affiliated with a national media outlet” was suspected of attempting to photograph the jurors, adding that the matter is under investigation. Police said there was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained.
In a surprise move before closing arguments in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the judge threw out a misdemeanor gun charge — the charge that experts thought was most likely to result in a conviction.
In a statement, an NBC News representative confirmed Morrison was working for the division but said he never intended to contact or photograph the jurors during deliberations.
“We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation,” the network said.
The ban will not impact MSNBC’s breaking coverage of the trial, as NBC News will still have access to video of the ongoing courtroom proceedings.
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