HTML does not have a <BR /> element. upon reading in an XHTML document through the HTML parser (which is not done only when the document is served with an XHTML MIME-Type) the elements are converted to valid HTML elements, i.e. <BR> (and that is what is read by the .html() method).
in short, JS accesses the parsed HTML document, not the written source code.
The computer is always right. The computer is always right. The computer is always right. Take it from someone who has programmed for over ten years: not once has the computational mechanism of the machine malfunctioned.
André Behrens, NY Times Software Developer