A pair of CNN journalists agreed to leave Thailand after they were accused of breaking into the scene of last week’s horrific massacre inside a daycare center.
The journalists, reporter Anna Coren and cameraman Daniel Hodge, apologized in a video for their coverage of Thursday’s attack, that left 37 people dead including 23 children in the Na Klang district of Nong Bua Lamphu province. Although they were later cleared of the charges of trespassing and filming a crime scene without permission, they were fined for working as journalists while on tourist visas, according to the BBC.
“My deepest apologies, especially to the families of victims of this tragedy – we are so sorry to have caused you more pain and suffering,” said Coren, who like Hodge was fined 5,000 baht, or the equivalent of $133. “We know your country is going through a painful time and we never came here to cause more grief.”
CNN goes rogue. Two CNN journalists entered Thailand on tourist visas, but went there actually to work. They entered the Thai daycare center without permission, an active crime scene where more than 20 children were massacred, and filmed it. Both journalists were fined. pic.twitter.com/WCPKa6CGZE
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) October 10, 2022
Thai police investigated the incident after concerns from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand and Thai Journalists’ Association, who in a statement accused CNN of “a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime reporting.” A photo circulated around the country showing the CNN journalists climbing over a gate.
“Would one of their crews have behaved in the same way at a serious crime scene in the United States?” the statement asked.
Thai officials said the CNN crew did not have permission to enter the crime scene, but police decided not to prosecute them because they claimed they thought it was allowed.
CNN said in a statement the crew was told by three public health officials it could film inside, and that the scene was only cordoned off once they had gone in. CNN International Executive Vice President Mike McCarthy said the team acted “in good faith.”
“The team entered the building in good faith, to gain a fuller impression of what transpired inside and to humanize the scale of the tragedy for their audience,” McCarthy said. “CNN has ceased broadcasting the report and has removed the video from its website. We deeply regret any distress or offense our report may have caused, and for any inconvenience to the Thai police at such a distressing time for the country.”
The gunman, who shot and stabbed his victims before fleeing to his home, where he killed his wife and son and then himself, was identified in reports as 34-year-old police officer who was recently fired, the BBC reported.
After the attack, photos and videos posted on social media showed rooms in the daycare center smeared with blood as horrified family members could be heard sobbing outside the building. Ambulances stood by as police and medical workers tended to victims.
Mass shootings are rare, but not unheard of in Thailand. In 2020, a disgruntled soldier went on a 16-hour shooting rampage that killed 29 people.