An anti-masker’s profane outburst targeting Kansas Reflector editor Sherman Smith is now posted online after initially being edited out of a video of a Kansas legislative committee meeting, prompting concerns about the legislature’s transparency.
Justin Spiehs, who referred to himself as a doctor, appeared before the Kansas Legislature’s Special Committee on Government Overreach and the Impact of COVID-19 Mandates on Saturday to rail against mask mandates and say Kansans who oppose restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 are up against “a bunch of weaklings.”
Toward the end of his comments, he turned his animosity toward Smith.
“And Sherman Smith, the editor of the Kansas Reflector, go f*** yourself, little b****. Snarky mother f***er,” Spiehs said before his microphone was silenced and he was escorted out of the room by Capitol police.
But while the video of the meeting was posted on the legislature’s YouTube page, Spiehs’ diatribe was missing for days. The 28-second exchange between Spiehs and Sen. Renee Erickson, a Wichita Republican, had been edited out, leaving silence.
Now, the audio is restored to the YouTube video following a Kansas Open Records Act request from the Reflector for the complete, unaltered video.
“I am forwarding the link, to the unedited version of the meeting of the Special Committee, to you. The meeting, in its entirety, may be found at: https://youtu.be/s9-JlZ9s_g8,” Tom Day, director of Legislative Administrative Services, said in an email.
Reached by phone, Day said he could neither clarify why the video was altered nor why it was restored “at this point.” He said the office was still reviewing profanity and vulgarity policies.
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.