President Obama, with legend "NO CHARGES," appeared over anchor Kathleen Bade's shoulder during report on San Diego State sex-assault case on the 10 o'clock news Friday the 13th. Image from KSWB-TV
President Obama, with legend “NO CHARGES,” appeared over anchor Kathleen Bade’s shoulder during report on San Diego State sex-assault case on the 10 o’clock news Friday the 13th. Image from KSWB-TV

An exclusive article about Fox 5 San Diego‘s brief portrayal of President Obama as a sex-assault suspect drew an international audience over the Presidents Day weekend, with over 550,000 people reading it.

Websites across the world, from Reddit to AOL to Britain’s Daily Mail, linked to Times of San Diego’s story by contributing editor Ken Stone. At one point on Sunday, over 6,000 people were simultaneously reading the article.

The article trending on Reddit on Sunday.

At 10:04 p.m. Friday the 13th, Fox 5 viewers heard anchor Kathleen Bade say: “The only suspect in a sex assault at SDSU will not be charged.” At the same time, a picture of Obama appeared with the legend “NO CHARGES.” The picture remained on the screen for about 5 seconds.

The station issued an apology on Sunday, with anchor Misha DiBono reading this statement at 10:31 p.m.:

“And we have an apology now. Friday night at 10 o’clock, we inadvertently used a photo of President Obama while reporting on a story about charges being dropped in a local case. We regret the error.”

The local television station is owned and operated by Tribune Media.

The article, which was posted Saturday morning and updated after the apology on Sunday, is the most read on Times of San Diego since the website began operations in March 2014. Because of the worldwide popularity, the website had to be moved to a new, more powerful web server on Sunday.

Daily Mail, a national newspaper in United Kingdom.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.