Is U-T San Diego (formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune) the only big daily in the country that didn’t mention that the man behind the “Kony 2012″ video was allegedly masturbating in public before being detained by San Diego police? Could be! The U-T’s story today says Jason Russell was involved in a “commotion” and “was partly clothed, screaming incoherently and running into the street.” Other San Diego news outlets — CBS8, 10News, NBC San Diego, and Fox5 — gave more complete accounts of Russell’s behavior.
U-T San Diego was purchased last November by conservative hotel owner Doug (“Papa Doug”) Manchester — described by the Voice of San Diego as the city’s “cheerleader in chief” — but he wasn’t behind this decision, says U-T San Diego Watchdog Editor Ricky Young. He sends this email:
I know everyone likes to think our owner is line editing his newspaper, but he’s not.
I took masturbating out of the Jason Russell item because the sourcing on it seemed very sketchy. The cops said they had an unconfirmed report that someone thought he was doing that (and their official statement later omitted it). We had an eye witness and a video showing a clearly disturbed man naked and pounding on the sidewalk. Does it mattter if he touched his genitals? It was prurient, piling on and most important, lacked foundation.
UPDATE #2: Young emails this follow-up:
I was wrong, official police statement did *not* omit masturbation; it said this:
‘One caller reported that the male had removed his underwear and was nude, perhaps masturbating, but that was not confirmed by responding officers.’
That was the part I found too sketchy.