Chicago anchors during R. Kelly release: ‘Let’s listen in’ — viewers get bombarded by F-bombs

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Chicago’s ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates were all in the middle of their 5 p.m. sportscasts when R. Kelly was released from jail on bond at around 5:23 p.m. local time Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Note: The videos below contain explicit language.

  • WMAQ, the NBC O&O, was in the middle of a soundbite when the control room cued the “breaking news” stinger. The video feed from the bite appeared, without audio, before suddenly cutting to the scene at the Cook County Jail.

  • WBBM, the CBS O&O, has its anchors interrupt the sportscast with a breaking news stinger and also cut to the scene at the jail.

  • WFLD, the Fox O&O was in the middle of rolling coverage of the event and also tossed to live audio from the field.

  • WLS, the ABC O&O, meanwhile, managed to somewhat gracefully toss from its sports segment to the news anchor for the breaking coverage.
  • What wasn’t smooth, however, was what happened next on all four stations.
  • All three stations decided to “listen in” to the live audio from the field — because Kelly’s attorney had indicated he might speak.
  • What viewers actually heard was multiple instances of “get the fuck back” yelled by someone — though it wasn’t immediately clear who.
  • Viewers could also see reporters and fans jostling for position, including climbing a short wall next to the walkway.
  • All three stations had aerial feeds and multiple cameras on the ground, all of which showed a melee of reporters and videographers following Kelly and his attorney to a waiting van.
  • It’s worth noting that in many of the shots, reporters from other stations make cameo appearances attempting to yell questions to Kelly while not getting trampled.
  • In general, FCC rules prohibit the use of certain profanity on over the air television, a rule that typically includes “fuck,” but incidents where profanity is accidentally aired as a result of live news coverage are do not typically result in any or much further action against the station.
  • Profanity making it to air during breaking news coverage is hardly unique to this situation.