MSNBC was barred from entering a courtroom during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a freelance news outlet, owned by NBCUniversal, was cited for a traffic accident on Wednesday near a jury van.
Bruce Schroeder, the presiding judge for the case, who criticized some media material, on Thursday announced a ban on attendance in the courtroom where Rittenhouse stands trial for the murder of two people during the 2020 Kenosha civil unrest.
Schroeder said the car, which was driven by James Morrison, who identified himself as an MSNBC employee, was stopped by police after it allegedly violated a traffic signal. He drove the block behind the van that transports the jury from the courthouse.
Schroeder said Morrison was under the supervision of an NBC News manager in New York who allegedly asked him to follow the jury.
A person familiar with Morrison’s employment status but not authorized to comment publicly said Morrison works for MSNBC as a freelance booker.
Schroeder called it “a very serious matter” and said it “will be turned over to higher authorities for further action.”
In tweet The Kenosha Police Department said Thursday morning, “Last night, a person who was allegedly linked to the national media” was suspected of trying to photograph the jury, adding that the case was under investigation. Police said there was no security breach with respect to the jury and no photographs were obtained.
In a statement, a spokesman for NBC News confirmed that Morrison worked for the unit, but said he never intended to contact the jury or photograph them during the discussion.
“We are sorry about the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities in any investigation,” the network said.
The ban will not affect the discontinued coverage of MSNBC’s trial, as NBC News will continue to have access to footage of the ongoing trial.