The Columbia City Prosecutor announced Monday that MU Assistant Professor Melissa Click will face third degree assault charges. The KBIA news staff became unwittingly involved in events surrounding the Columbia City Prosecutor’s decision, and we believe an account of these events is worth sharing.
Mark Schierbecker first contacted KBIA on November 10, the day after he shot the video on Carnahan Quadrangle, where Click confronted him and called for “muscle,” to try to remove him from the space. Schierbecker told News Director Ryan Famuliner that he was in communication with Melissa Click about possibly doing a live interview together with a news outlet, and wondered if KBIA would be interested in hosting the interview. Famuliner told him that KBIA might be interested and he and Schierbecker exchanged phone numbers. No official arrangements were made, but Schierbecker later showed up in the newsroom and brought a friend, who was serving as his publicist, with him.
Schierbecker and his publicist spent 4-5 hours in our newsroom talking with Famuliner, KBIA Health & Wealth Reporter Rebecca Smith, and KBIA Digital Content Director Nathan Lawrence. Smith and Lawrence recorded an interview with Schierbecker for a short story to air that day.
There were periodic discussions about a possible interview with Schierbecker and Click throughout the afternoon. KBIA said we would consider airing the interview live, allowing them both to give brief statements at the beginning, and then our reporter would ask Schierbecker and Click questions with no limitations on content.
Schierbecker and his publicist asked for space to work. During that process we learned they were formulating a written agreement about the interview to share with Click, which they later shared with KBIA:
Smith went with Schierbecker’s assistant to try to meet with Click to discuss the interview. Click did not open her door for the conversation. It was around this time that KBIA became concerned about the nature of this arrangement. It also became apparent to us that the likelihood of the interview occurring was low.
KBIA moved on to other coverage of the aftermath of the demonstrations and resignations at MU for the next few days. The Washington Post and other news outlets reached out to us to inquire about the interview, and staff told them we had discussed the prospect of the interview with Schierbecker but had no solid details about where it would occur or about its viability.
Smith and Famuliner both checked in with Schierbecker in the following days to clarify the prospect of the interview. November 16 was the last day KBIA sent Schierbecker an email about the possible interview.
CNN Money ran a story on December 1, titled, How Missouri Prof. Melissa Click could avoid assault charge. KBIA was not mentioned by name, nor were we asked to comment. We had not had any conversations or correspondence with Schierbecker since Nov 16.
Then, on December 2, Schierbecker contacted Smith, saying that Click had tentatively agreed to an on-air interview with the understanding that Schierbecker would not further pursue a criminal case if Click did the interview. KBIA staff discussed the matter internally, and Famuliner responded that night:
Schierbecker did not respond to that email. On December 3, Famuliner responded to a call from a Columbia Daily Tribune reporter inquiring about the situation, and discussed the facts above.
The next communication KBIA had with Schierbecker was January 25, to discuss the Columbia City Prosecutor's decision to press charges.
On December 29, Melissa Click called KBIA to discuss the situation. She spoke with Famuliner, who then spoke with other KBIA staff. KBIA decided to stick with its decision to not take part in the interview under this arrangement, but did offer Click the opportunity to do an interview without Schierbecker in the room. The contents of Famuliner’s conversations with Click were off the record. At this point, no such interview has taken place.
KBIA reached out to both Assistant Professor Click and Schierbecker to inform them of our intent to publish this article and ask for their response.
“I didn't want to have the only voice,” Shierbecker told KBIA in an email, “so extending my offer to have her on KBIA felt like the right thing to do. I regret asking her to apologize on air. That's what Concerned Student forced [Former UM System President] Wolfe to do, and I don't stand for that. I now feel that she should be given an open mic to say what she felt would return the attention to racism and address any suffering she caused.”
KBIA has not yet received comment from Assistant Professor Melissa Click. This post will be updated as new information emerges.
Update: In the second paragraph of this article, the word "conversation" has been changed to "communication" to more accurately affect Schierbecker's contact with us.