Central Florida News 13 says it was its viewers who first noticed Matthew Bartlett’s “middle finger of affection” — as Judge Belvin Perry called it — during the Casey Anthony trial.
Bartlett, the 28-year-old restaurant server, admitted in court that he flipped a bird at prosecutor Jeff Ashton. But Ashton didn’t see the incident — and just about everyone else missed it to. Except News 13, which notified the court.
“Our viewers first brought it to our attention,” News 13 general manager Robin Smythe told Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “It was offensive to them. We took a look at it. If we were going to provide live coverage, it’s obscene behavior. Our viewers did not like this. We got a lot of calls.”
As to why News 13 alerted the court: “We have a responsibility,” Smythe said. “It was not an effort to be a tattletale. We have an obligation to keep it clean, and we’re going to do that for our viewers.”
Perry found Bartlett in contempt of court and sentenced him to six days in jail.