Judge Bruce Schroeder announced Thursday morning that MSNBC would no longer be permitted in the courtroom of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial after someone who identified himself as a producer working for MSNBC was pulled over and arrested when he blew a red light while following a bus transporting the jurors.
The judge explained that the jury is transported each day from a different location in a bus with covered windows so they aren’t exposed to anything that might influence how they rule on the case. During their Wednesday evening transport, police stopped a man who was following the bus about a block behind after he blew a red light.
The man identified himself as James J. Morrison, employed by MSNBC, and said he had been instructed by MSNBC’s Irene Byon in New York to follow the jury bus, according to the judge.
Judge: “A person who identified as James Jim Morrison and claimed that he was a producer with NBC News, MSNBC under the supervision of someone named Irene Byon” was pulled over for following the bus of Kyle Rittenhouse jurors last night.
Judge bans MSNBC from courthouse pic.twitter.com/PQ6RPCdDtz
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 18, 2021
The Kenosha Police Department confirmed that the man was taken into custody briefly and was suspected to be attempting to take photos of the jurors, but said no photos were obtained and that the investigation is still open.
There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained. This investigation remains active and open, no further information.
— Kenosha Police Dept. (@KenoshaPolice) November 18, 2021
“He is not here today from what I’m told, and I have instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” the judge said. “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.”
In a statement, NBC News admitted that the police stop happened near the jury bus but tried to distance itself from the incident, saying that Morrison is a freelancer who “never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them.” Yet if Morrison did not intend to contact or take pictures of the jurors, it remains unclear why he would follow them in the first place.
Other journalists have already tried to cover for Morrison, with a Court TV correspondent who knows him reportedly saying that tailing a jury bus during a big trial is a common media practice to get jurors’ license plate numbers in order to get their information and contact them immediately after the verdict. “Happens all the time,” the correspondent reportedly claimed.
MSNBC has since been accused on social media of “jury tampering” and “obstructing justice.” Byon, who allegedly instructed the man suspected of trying to photograph the jury to follow them, has since nuked her social media accounts including LinkedIn and Twitter.
Irene Byon, implicated in instructing a reported to follow the Jury Bus has nuked her Linkedin
Court TV reporter claims to know Morrison
This is looking legit like MSNBC tried to expose the jurors identites pic.twitter.com/oEmDi0hxsT
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) November 18, 2021
— AntifaWatch (@AntifaWatch2) November 18, 2021
Kylee Zempel is an assistant editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @kyleezempel.