Recently Artvoice received an email alleging that a prominent, local elected official (LEO) had child porn on her Twitter page.
Calling her a “sicko” and saying she “should be nowhere near children”, the email referenced a retweet by the LEO which we were assured contained an illicit photo of a little girl.
Examining LEO’s Twitter page, Artvoice found a plethora of political tweets and retweets in praise of Hillary Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama. Scrolling back to mid-2014, Artvoice found the retweet in question. It was a picture of a little girl, laughing, wearing an oversized, loose-fitting dress. Had it not been for a comment above the picture, “nip slip”, we would not have noticed the child’s dress would, if worn by a woman, be hanging too low (A ‘nip slip’ is when an adult female nipple accidentally slips out from under a loose-fitting garment).
The tweet had initially been sent to the LEO by a teenage girl. A second comment above the child’s picture, “warning leaked nudes attached,” made it seem that this tweet was intended as some kind of juvenile humor, but it was such that it might attract the perverted as well. Why did LEO, an adult, retweet it?
At first blush, it looked like LEO might be guilty of (at the very least) retweeting something vile, masquerading as some sort of sick humor. “Nip slip” and “leaked nude” as captions to a picture of a little girl with her dress which slipped down low.
In response to our query, LEO explained that she did not realize the picture was on her Twitter page. In fact, she could not see it, she said, because the teenager who had sent it had for some reason blocked her. The picture was invisible on her Twitter account to her, yet visible to others.
The girl in the picture, she further explained, was her daughter, at age three, taken years before. Her retweet of it was directed to the teenage girl, a friend of her daughter’s, who somehow had the picture, made the juvenile comments, and tweeted it.
LEO said, “I did not intend to retweet the context of the text, but was simply asking… where she obtained the photo.”
By the time Artvoice looked into this, the photo (thanks to the teen) had already been discussed by some of her political opponents, and alluded to, it is believed, on social media. LEO said it had been mentioned on the radio.
She told Artvoice, “I strenuously object to any inference, innuendo or allegation this innocent family photo constitutes child pornography. [The] child who wrote and posted the language associated with this picture … told me she was just joking around with her peers.”
After she found out that others could see the picture on her Twitter page (which she had been blocked from seeing) LEO made her Twitter page private.
“We live in a terrible world where irresponsible people promulgate half-truths, rumors, innuendo and malicious gossip with no care for the consequences of their actions or the people they hurt. Thank you for your journalistic integrity,” she wrote to Artvoice.
It would have been an easy matter to have simply published a screen shot of LEO’s Twitter page (with the little girl’s image blurred, of course) including the “nip slip” and “leaked nude” comments linked to the picture of a child which appeared as LEO’s retweet.
This might have lighted up social media and gotten talked about in coffee shops, bars and around water coolers, and LEO would have been left to explain.
It would also been the height of unfairness.
We mention this only because the story changed upon more and fuller examination and inquiry. LEO looked guilty, then stupid, then innocent of wrongdoing, which was the truth after all.
Regardless of our political beliefs, the truth is always fair, and above all must be our only goal.