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An NBC outlet in Minnesota has fired a reporter due to actions that it said appeared to show political bias while covering President Donald Trump’s recent appearance in Rochester, Minnesota.
Multimedia journalist James Bunner crossed the company’s policy line by wearing a Make America Great Again hat while he covered the event.
Journalist Mark VanCleave of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was among the first to note that one member of the media pack wore a pro-Trump hat.
He tweeted images of Bunner at work at the rally, with the message, ” Whyyyyy?”
— Mark Vancleave 🎥+📸 (@MDVancleave) October 4, 2018
Noel Sederstrom, news director of KTTC in Austin, Minnesota, said the station has a ban on staff members wearing campaign garb while covering political events, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Bunner was fired Friday, he said.
Some on Twitter attacked the station for its actions.
You fired your reporter James Bunner a journalist for KTTC-TV in Austin?? Really? He wore the hat Thursday while covering President Donald Trump's appearance in Rochester and images of him wearing the hat began appearing on Twitter. SHAMEFUL!! You should allow pride! Rehire him! pic.twitter.com/h0cPfJ5XnE
— NurseWarrior (@ForensicNurse91) October 6, 2018
@KTTCTV This is employment discrimination and if you pick up a book, by the way it's ok to touch a book it's not made of asbestos, firing an employee for their Political values is illegal and I hope James Bunner takes you to court!https://t.co/3H5AeWEnG7
— 🌊🎙Deplorable🐢🐾Crumb🌴🌵🍸 (@Nutmeg328) October 6, 2018
We are woke! NBC fires reporter, James Bunner, for wearing MAGA hat while covering Trump rally! Total bias as NBC makes chopped liver out of Trump & conservatives on a daily basis. This man needs a job and a huge thank you for being MAGA strong! #FakeNewsNBC pic.twitter.com/GiV1ulyYl6
— Nina Tomasieski (@MAGANinaJo) October 6, 2018
In response to questions from BuzzFeed News about pro-Trump commentary it found on Bunner’s Facebook page, Sederstrom said action was taken against Bunner only because he wore that hat at Thursday’s rally and not because of his personal views as shared on social media.
“He violated our policy so he’s no longer with us,” Sederstrom said. “We don’t allow our people to wear campaign clothing while on assignment.”
Bunner has yet to tell his side of the story to any media outlet seeking comment.
A page on the KTTC site that is no longer available said Bunner joined the station in December.
The station’s actions come against a backdrop of fierce debate over the extent of media bias in the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley chided the media for its bias. “I consider you folks policemen for our democratic system of government, but I want to show you where some of you have bias. I’ve had demonstrators in my office for two weeks now — both for Kavanaugh and against Kavanaugh,” the Iowa Republican said, according to CNS News.
“And one time, the people that were for Kavanaugh wanted to be interviewed, and they said, ‘We’re only interested in interviewing people against Kavanaugh.’ Now, that’s a bias that none of you should be proud of,” the senator said.