Rust-Tierney Case Stays Surprisingly Below Media Radar

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The former president of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU was arrested last week and charged with possession of child pornography. According to the Friday ABC News report, it does not sound like the charges involved quasi-porn nor does it appear that Rust-Tierney was set up:

Rust-Tierney admitted to investigators that he had downloaded videos and images from child pornography websites onto CD-ROMs, according to the complaint.

There is a cushion of plausibility that Mr. Rust-Tierney is innocent, so one would not want to insist the story deserves any coverage at all. In reality, however, normal journalistic practice seems to be to ferret out relevant details regarding the potential importance of the case if such details are available.

Understandably, with the Academy Awards, a snowstorm and spring training hard upon us, a major newspaper certainly faces the quintessential "perfect storm" of de rigeur news, so it's a small wonder the Post managed to cover anything else at all this weekend.

But one can surmise if the alleged offender had been a former official with the Family Foundation or Concerned Women for America, a story the local NBC affiliate had managed to break Friday evening would have been a 2-page spread in the A section of Sunday's Post.

Instead, here is the total WAPO coverage, tucked into a news roundup inside Saturday's Metro section (B-5):

An Arlington County youth sports coach and former ACLU chapter president was arrested on child pornography charges by federal agents who accused him of viewing Web sites filled with explicit images of pre-pubescent girls.

Charles Rust-Tierney, 51, of Arlington was charged with receipt and possession of child pornography. He was ordered detained pending a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors said Rust-Tierney coaches various youth sports teams in and around Arlington. A 2002 Virginia ACLU newsletter identified him as the group's president.

The Saturday edition of the local paper of record - which, granted, is a media leviathan with 10 reporters for every 1 at the lowly Post - managed to dig a bit further into the story, and highlight a relevant local angle the Post's Lexis-Nexis search filter may have blocked:

Speaking for the ACLU, Mr. Rust-Tierney was a leading proponent in the late 1990s for unrestricted access to the Internet, arguing before the Loudoun County Library Board that people would "continue to behave responsibly and appropriately while in the library" and that "maximum, unrestricted access to the valuable resources of the Internet" should be allowed...

Mr. Rust-Tierney also argued that parents should have the primary responsibility for setting rules for their children regarding Internet access, and that "older minors should have access to resources appropriate for their age group, even if such materials may be considered by some parents to be unsuitable for younger minors."

A search for "Charles Rust-Tierney" on Google News about 11:00 pm Sunday brought up roughly 7 different stories, none different that the 4 listed above and none, alas, from Sunday's Post.

Bloggers, as expected, are gamely doing the job the mainstream press just won't do:

RiehlWorldView (also here and much more here).

Ace (more here).

And of course, Stop The ACLU.

(Check out each of those, by the way.)

Here is an excerpt from Rust-Tierney's 1998 testimony on behalf of the ACLU during the Loudoun County library controversy:

The Internet is rapidly becoming an essential tool for learning and communication. Public libraries play a vital role in assuring that the Internet is universally available to all segments of the population on an equitable basis...

Just around 1998, the Internet was also rapidly becoming the essential pornography superhighway that it is today. Those moronic conservatives on the Loudoun Library Board were, apparently, too dimwitted to recognize this as a tool.

More background on the Loudoun case can be found here and here.

When the Post's coverage finally arrives, replete with interviews with parents from the youth sports team Rust-Tierney was allegedly involved with, we shall bring it to your attention forthwith.

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