Days prior to the taping of a 2012 “Meet the Press” episode, D.C. police told an NBC News editor to use a photograph of an empty gun ammunition magazine and not display an actual clip, which would have been illegal in the city, according to a recently released copy of a D.C. police arrest warrant.
The Dec. 23, 2012 airing of the empty 30-round, high-capacity magazine propelled then-“Meet the Press” host David Gregory and the network into a bind with D.C. police, which sought an arrest warrant after the segment appeared on television. Neither Gregory nor any NBC official was ever charged with possessing the illegal item, but details of the warrant for Gregory’s arrest reveal new information about the conversations between NBC officials and police before the episode aired.
The arrest warrant was sealed for two years until a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered the warrant public last month. The Legal Insurrection Web site initially filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the affidavit. The District was then sued by Judicial Watch, a government transparency group, on behalf of the blog for the affidavit’s release. The affidavit was released last week and was posted on the Judicial Watch Web site on Friday.
In the two-page affidavit, D.C. police revealed e-mail exchanges between police officers and NBC News executives. On Dec. 21, two days before the show was taped, an NBC official sent an e-mail to D.C. police explaining that producers of “Meet the Press” wanted to use a “clip” on the show in the studio and wanted to know if using the clip would be illegal.
About four hours later, a D.C. police official responded: “No, possession of high capacity magazines is a misdemeanor” and suggested show producers use photographs of the ammunition clip instead.
The NBC official acknowledged receiving the e-mail from D.C. police and said “thanks.”
D.C. gun laws prohibit possessing a “large capacity ammunition feeding device” — defined as holding more than 10 rounds — even if it not attached to a firearm and if it is empty. The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Calls and e-mails to NBC News spokesmen were not immediately returned Saturday.
“Meet the Press” is taped at NBC studios at 4001 Nebraska Ave., NW.
During the “Meet the Press” taping, Gregory held the magazine during an interview with the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre. The two were talking about the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Four days later, D.C. police began investigating the case. While D.C. police wanted to arrest Gregory for violating District laws, then D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan declined to charge the host and the warrant was never followed up on by police or filed with D.C. Superior Court. Instead, it remained within the District’s Office of the Attorney General.
In a January 2013 letter to NBC, Nathan said he decided to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and not pursue a criminal case, saying that prosecution of Gregory would “not promote public safety” in the District nor would it “serve the best interest of the people.”