On September 11, African-American actress Daniele Watts -- best known for her role in Django Unchained -- and her boyfriend, who happens to be white, were investigated and briefly detained by a Los Angeles police officer who responded to a call from a bystander filing a complaint about lewd misconduct. Ms. Watts went to the media with complaints of racial profiling and insisted she was merely making out with her boyfriend. Photographic and eyewitness evidence, however, attested to more intense sexual activity going on.
Still, MSNBC.com portrays Ms. Watts -- who, along with her boyfriend celebrity chef Brian Lucas, was formally charged on Tuesday with misdemeanor lewd conduct -- as the victim of racist police officers.
"Daniele Watts, who previously accused police of racial profiling, was charged with one count of lewd conduct for kissing her husband in a parked car," insisted the teaser caption on MSNBC.com's splash page.
"An African-American actress who claimed her rights were violated when she was arrested by police after a bystander saw her kissing her white husband in a parked car has been charged with a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct in a public place," staff writer Michele Richinick explained in her lead paragraph.
While Richinick referred to a TMZ.com account of the arrest, it was only to cue up Ms. Watts's repeated denials about the allegations. Of course TMZ is hardly the most admirable news source out there, but it has broken some solid stories before, chief among them the Ray Rice elevator video. Here's how TMZ characterized eyewitness accounts which strongly suggest that Ms. Watts and her boyfriend were indeed having sex, not merely "making out" as she claims (emphasis mine):
An eyewitness who saw Daniele and Brian as he worked in a nearby office tells TMZ ... Brian was sitting in the passenger seat with his feet on the curb and Daniele was straddling him with her shirt pulled up -- breasts exposed. The eyewitness says she was grinding on top of him, rocking back and forth.
Someone from the office went down and asked Daniele and Brian to stop because everyone in the office could see them but they continued.
The eyewitnesses say Brian then began "horizontally bongoing her boobs back and forth." He says she eventually reached into the center console, grabbed a tissue, wiped him down and then herself and tossed it on the grass.
Someone from the office called the cops and made an indecent exposure complaint. TMZ obtained police audio when the cops came out, and Daniele played the race and fame cards.
Ultimately Ms. Watts is innocent until proven guilty, and as far as criminal acts goes, getting kinky in a parked car is hardly a high priority bust for a major metropolitan police department. That said, as the officer noted in the audio recording, he'd have likely moved on from the call had Ms. Watts promptly cooperated with the officer -- as her boyfriend did -- rather than making a big stink.
The perpetually race-obsessed Lean Forward network is doing no one favors when it clings tenaciously to discredited claims regarding racial profiling and police misconduct. Yes, racial profiling and police misconduct do exist, but it seems highly unlikely to be the case here.