Fox 5 News depicts Obama as rape suspect, apologizes

Two nights after briefly portraying President Obama as a sex-assault suspect on its 10 o’clock news, Fox 5 San Diego apologized to viewers.

At 10:04 p.m. Friday the 13th, 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 Obama shot lasted about 5 seconds, but it was noticed immediately in the newsroom, said Mike Wille, an assignment editor.

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

“Yeah, there was an accident when they had an over-the-shoulder” display, Wille told Times of San Diego. “It wasn’t on purpose.”

Asked why there was no immediate on-air acknowledgment or apology for the error, Wille said: “They really don’t do that when it’s a small thing like that.”

But at 10:31 p.m. Sunday, Fox 5 anchor Misha DiBono read this statement:

“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.”

Earlier Sunday, in response to requests for comment, a top spokesman for the station’s corporate parent acknowledged that Fox 5 San Diego “made a very unfortunate mistake during Friday evening’s newscast.”

The station also posted a note on its website, headlined: “An Apology To Our Viewers”:

Last Friday night during KSWB-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast, we inadvertently displayed a photo of President Obama while reporting a local story on the police dropping charges in an ongoing criminal case. The mistake was unintentional.  On Sunday’s 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts we delivered an on-air apology for the mistake.  As we said then, we regret the error and apologize to our viewers for making it.

Assignment editor Wille wasn’t sure when Bade was made aware of the errant Obama image, which appeared during a report on the District Attorney’s Office deciding not to file charges against 20-year-old Francisco Sousa because the evidence was weak.

Emmy Award-winner Bade has been the primetime anchor at Fox 5 San Diego, KSWB-TV, since the station’s launch in 2008, according to her online profile.

Wille said no calls were received during the newscast about the Obama picture.

Apology posted on in wake of Obama photo error.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. Feb. 16, 2015