NBC News appeared to tacitly admit that one of its journalists on the ground last month during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse was indeed attempting to follow jurors despite the network’s previous denial, after a bodycam video clip was released by the Kenosha Police Dept.
James J. Morrison, described at the time as a freelancer, was stopped by police on or about Nov. 18 after he allegedly ran a stoplight while pursuing a van carrying jurors who had been sequestered at an undisclosed location while not in the courtroom.
“Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further,” the department announced shortly afterward.
Morrison identified himself as an NBC News producer who was working under the direction of an MSNBC employee named Irene Byon. After he was stopped and ticketed, the network released a statement claiming that Morrison’s intent was not to intercept the jurors.
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them,” the network statement claimed.
“We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
But the bodycam footage from an officer who identified as “Officer Jones” appears to suggest otherwise:
WATCH 🚨 BodyCam Footage of NBC Producer Following Kyle Rittenhouse Jury Vehicle
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) November 30, 2021
Officer Jones: “Were you following a vehicle?”
Morrison: “I was trying to see– I was being called by New York going– maybe– these are the people you need to follow. But I don’t know. I was trying to…”
Officer Jones: “Trying to what?”
Morrison: “Just do what they told me to do.”
Officer Jones: “New York told you to follow a vehicle?”
Officer Jones: “Your offices in New York or what?”
Morrison: “That’s right.”
Officer Jones: “How did they know about this vehicle?”
Morrison: “I don’t know. I mean it was discreet, I wasn’t like gonna talk to anybody or anything, just trying to find a location, that’s all.”
Jones told other officers nearby what Morrison was saying, leading one to respond with a question: “So we’ve got news media telling him to follow our unmarked vehicles?”
Next, Morrison indicated to Officer Jones that he was being directed to follow jurors to get information about their whereabouts and movements by NBC News in New York, not a local affiliate in Chicago or Milwaukee, and was not a freelancer working independently. Morrison was allegedly tailing them during their deliberations to decide Rittenhouse’s fate.
Byon quickly backed up Morrison’s story after Jones called her.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on here, why you have a reporter or a producer following vehicles out here,” said Jones as Byon went on to identify herself as “Irene, a booking producer with NBC News.”
“We were just trying to– respectfully just trying to– see if it’s possible to find any leads about the case, and so we were– we were just keeping our distance, just to see where people involved in the trial are positioned,” she told the officer.
“By no means were we trying to get in contact with any of the jury members or whoever is in the car, we just were trying to see where key players in the trial may be at,” she added.
Townhall’s Spencer Brown went on to observe: “Interestingly, Byon was the first one to specifically mention the jury in the course of the traffic stop captured on the body cam recording — Officer Jones hadn’t prompted her as to what kind of vehicle Morrison appeared to be following nor who may be in it.”
The network issued its statement of denial shortly after Morrison was stopped and Byon was contacted.
The judge overseeing the Rittenhouse case, Bruce Schroeder, went on to ban MSNBC from the courtroom for the remainder of the trial upon hearing the news.
“This is a very serious matter and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely it would go without much thinking that someone who is following the jury bus – that is an extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action,” he said in court.
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