Members of the media on Friday stormed the Redlands, California, rental apartment of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik -- the deceased, suspected shooters linked to Wednesday's massacre in San Bernardino -- igniting a public backlash from their journalistic peers. Many reporters from various outlets rummaged through the suspects’ belongings, but one reporter stood out: MSNBC's Kerry Sanders, who was filmed by his crew giving a full tour of the apartment, even showing photos and a California driver’s license.
“Interestingly, as a reporter who’s been doing this for three-plus decades,” said Sanders, in a discussion with anchor Kate Snow, “I have never quite seen anything like this, where shortly after the FBI leaves a scene, that the media is invited in by the homeowner and literally more than 100 reporters and camera crews traipse throughout the entire apartment. Upstairs, downstairs and just about every nook and cranny,” the Washington Post reported.
For nearly 15 minutes, Sanders was shown pawing through the suspects’ belongings, picking up objects and explaining what he was seeing. The FBI had closed the investigation of the apartment, declaring it no longer a crime scene and returning it to the owner. However, many users of social media voiced outrage, citing ethical and privacy concerns over the spectacle.
Sanders has been NBC’s Miami correspondent since 1996 and has contributed regularly to “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” MSNBC and occasionally to “Dateline NBC,” according to his profile on NBC News’ website. He has covered breaking news as well as feature stories, and reportedly has more than 30 years of experience providing in-the-field reports, including from the Iraq War. He has won several prestigious awards, including a 2011 Society of Professional Journalists Bronze Medal for his coverage of Chileans trapped in a mine and a National Headliner Award for his reporting after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.
In response to the public backlash, MSNBC released the following 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.”