Reporter fired for wearing MAGA hat while covering Trump rally

October 6, 2018 GMT

James Bunner, a television reporter seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while covering one of President Trump’s recent rallies, was fired afterwards from his job at an NBC affiliate in southern Minnesota, his former boss said Friday.

KTTC-TV’s news director said the station fired Mr. Bunner, a multimedia journalist hired last December, after a photograph circulated on social media that showed him wearing a hat bearing Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan hat while covering the president’s rally Thursday in Rochester, Minn.

“Our newsroom’s standards of professional journalism do not allow our reporters to wear partisan political campaign clothing while actively covering a political campaign event for the television station,” said Noel Sederstrom, the station’s news director. “We work hard to be neutral and unbiased toward all political parties and candidates,” he told The Med City Beat blog.

“It’s not unfair,” Mr. Bunner reacted on Twitter. “KTTC-TV is not to blame,” he tweeted Saturday.

A photograph taken during Thursday’s rally by Mark Vancleave, a video journalist for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, showed Mr. Bunner holding a KTTC-TV microphone and stabilizing a television camera while wearing both a red MAGA hat and a jacket bearing the KTTC-TV and NBC logos.

“Whyyyyy?” Mr. Vancleave captioned a Twitter post sharing the picture.

Groups including both the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Photographers Association have ethicscodes in place advising reporters against political activities that could compromise their own integrity, impartiality or independence, and outlets typical adopt similar rules of their own.

“He violated our policy so he’s no longer with us,” Mr. Sederstrom told BuzzFeed News. “We don’t allow our people to wear campaign clothing while on assignment.”

Mr. Bunner previously worked for outlets in Colorado and Nebraska prior to joining KTTC-TV last year, according to an online profile.