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Friday, October 24, 2008

Pennsylvanians for McCain

I'm not especially surprised by this story about a white woman falsely claiming that she was attacked by a black Obama supporter, but I'm very surprised to hear that the Pennsylvania McCain campaign pushed the story in the press AND then blamed the police department. And the woman in question is a McCain campaign worker, not some random person. Kind of an eyebrow raiser, even for the Repugs.

. . . Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain volunteer who claimed that she was assaulted in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night by an attacker who scratched a "B" in her cheek after learning that she was for McCain.

The story was flacked madly last night by Drudge [and Hannity], even though few if any details had been established or independently confirmed.

. . . admitted Friday that the story was false and was being charged with making a false report to police, said Maurita Bryant, the assistant chief of the police department's investigations division. Police doubted her story from the start, Bryant said.

Todd, who is white, told police she was attacked by a 6-foot-4 black man Wednesday night. She now can't explain why she invented the story, Bryant said. Todd also told police she believes she cut the backward "B" onto her own cheek, but did not provide an explanation of how or why, Bryant said.

Here's more, from Buzzflash:

. . . it is clear that the campaign saw it as an opportunity, and ran with it.
Several reporters complained [5] about the McCain campaign pushing the story, with a Pennsylvania communications director for the campaign going as far as to fabricate details of the attack, presumably to make for a juicier news story. He told reporters the B on the young woman's cheek stood for "Barack" and that the attacker told the woman, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."

The campaign later denied that the communications director made up the quotes, saying they came from police and were attributed incorrectly by sloppy reporters. But several members of the media defend their statements [6] with their notes. One even reported that police could not corroborate the claims made by the campaign.

Columnist and Washington Post associate editor Eugene Robinson called the actions of the communications director "reprehensible," [7] and added that they represent an "eagerness to incite a kind of racial backlash against the Obama campaign in a part of Pennsylvania where race can be a very raw and divisive issue to this day, and I don't think there's any other way you can look at it."

Lies aside, there was a concerted effort to get this story out into the public eye before it was revealed to be a hoax. NBC's Brian Williams seemed downright bitter when he reported [8], "The McCain campaign steered reporters' attention to the story."



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