One day late last summer, brief news reports mentioned that a California man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula voluntarily left his home early on a Saturday morning for a meeting at a local sheriff’s station. The impression created by the articles was that Mr. Nakoula meandered down to the station one fine sunny day under his own power because authorities were worried he might have violated the terms of his probation on a 2010 bank fraud charge. The stories stressed that he was absolutely, 100% not arrested, and that he left the station later that morning.
Nakoula wasn’t suspected of doing anything violent, or indeed anything that would have been illegal for most of us. Readers might have wondered why national news outlets were even reporting such trivia. In any case, the story never “grew legs”—that is, never got around much.