Friday, October 24, 2008

I can haz Oktober supprize?

Ashley Todd, College Republican from College Station, Texas, has made a hell of a mess. She was volunteering for the McCain campaign, and faked an attack by a 6'4" "dark skinned" black man who... wait for it... just happened to be a crazy violent Obama supporter. A likely story, that was quickly and easily debunked.

BUT not before the McCain campaign was all over the story, amplifying it out to media all over the place. Directly contacting reporters and pushing the story, adding in details that had not yet been released by the police. The full story is here, and damn it is worth reading.

This could be a huge story. Here's another good summary, with video of reporters defending their sourcing of the outrageous claims after the McCain people deny being the source of the quotes. 2 different television reporters both saying the same person contacted them: McCain's Pennsylvania communications director Peter Feldman.

People in the comments suggested that Obama would have his lawyers working with the police to get the full story out, but the smart choice for Obama has to be to completely step away, keep your hands completely off the situation -- let the media and the local government hand the matter without any interference. In fact, have Obama come out and make a statement: "We deplore everything about this situation, and we call for a complete investigation with 100% transparency, immediately. But we will not take part in the investigation, we will not be involved in any way. Any of my staff who attempts to influence this investigation in any way
will immediately be fired. That is all we will have to say about the matter until further notice."

The police are upset at being played. The media will go after this hard; even in the most friendly environment (not applicable here) news organizations don't like being treated as suckers or fitted for clown shoes. All the facts and circumstances will come out, and the best thing Obama can do is steer clear and cut off any perception that he is trying to use the situation for his own gain. But it looks likely that he will gain significantly because even in the best-case scenario here, McCain is going to take a big hit.

And in the worst case, he is done as a candidate. This post from earlier today points to a blog item from the V.P. in charge of Fox News, John Moody, stated baldly that "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting". Note that this was before it was understood that there actually was a hoax, and certainly before it was known that a McCain spokesman had been pushing a sensationalized version to the local tv stations. This statement from the Fox News guy clearly -- to me anyway -- implies that someone in the McCain organization also contacted Fox News to push a sensationalized version of the story. And the VP in charge of Fox News doesn't take calls from state-level communications directors. Someone higher in the organization would have been contacting Fox News. Which, as the guy says, spells doom for McCain.

So, to sum up: (1) If, as appears to be proven, someone on McCain's Pennsylvania staff was pushing this fake race-baiting story to local media in Pennsylvania, McCain looks very bad, but (2) if, as appears reasonably likely, someone higher up -- in McCain's national organization -- was pushing this fake race-baiting story to national media (Fox, CNN, NBC, Drudge, among others), then McCain is done for good, and for the rest of the campaign -- when not being ignored (shunned) by national media -- will be held up to severe ridicule and scorn.


Gleemonex said...

Fucking AWESOME!!!!

Mr. Gleemonex said...

I can't get enough of this story. The second I heard it, I knew it was fake. I am amazed that the McCain camp could be so desperate as to premote this before vetting her story fully. Well, but then again...

My schadenfreude has kicked into full gear and I am spending hours reading comments about the coverage. Wonkette posters have some absolute gems.