Did the McCain Campaign Push the Carved-B Hoax?

I haven’t bothered posting about Ashley Todd, the disturbed young McCain volunteer who apparently carved a backwards “B” on her face, then told police she’d been assaulted by some kind of rogue Obama supporter. Yes, it’s technically a high-profile lie, but meh, can’t summon the energy required.

But this question is a little more interesting: From David Kurtz at TPM: Who do you believe? Kurtz looks at the evidence for and against the claim (made by two local TV reporters in Pennsylvania) that a McCain campaign official was pushing the story to them Thursday night, embellishing it with extra race-baiting details absent from the police report. Today the McCain campaign denies that they pushed the story, claiming that both TV stations made the same mistake, accidentally attributing to the McCain campaign false information that had actually been provided by the police.

There’s more detail in this earlier story from TPM’s Greg Sargent, if you have the energy to pursue it: McCain Communications Director Gave Reporters Incendiary Version Of “Carved B” Story Before Facts Were Known.

Eleven more days…

Update: Janus/Onan pointed out this to me. It’s kind of mean, but it also made me laugh:

Still later update: So, the following interesting coincidence occurred to me: Both campaigns have now had a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, and in fact a lie told by a young campaign volunteer named Ashley, that ends up playing a key role in the campaign’s narrative on race. Here’s Obama’s version of the Ashley story, as he told it in his “More perfect union” speech:

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Still yet more later update: Josh Marshall doesn’t like it. He gets specific about who was pushing the story (“McCain Pennsylvania communications director Peter Feldman”), and says it is Time for answers:

Our reporting did not find any direct evidence that the McCain campaign’s national headquarters played a role pushing the story.

However, the national campaign has now come forward and lied about what happened in Pennsylvania. McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers has now told NBC that alleged quotes from the McCain campaign in early reports of the story were actually the product of “sloppy reporting” and that they were actually quotes from the Pittsburgh police.

This is simply not credible.

It’s not the crime. It’s the coverup.

Even later than the still yet more later update: Sven wrote to ask what I meant by Ashley Baia’s lie. What I mean was, when the young Ashley lied to her mother about liking mustard-and-relish sandwiches. Though I suppose it’s possible that the whole story is a lie, either by Ashley, or by Obama. Maybe Ashley Baia doesn’t even exist.

Hm, no, apparently she does. A quick googling turns up the following article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Sandwich girl an Obama organizer here.

Anyway, that’s what I mean about her lying: lying to her mother about liking the sandwiches.

The update after all other updates: If you’re still interested in this story at this point, there’s a good followup article with additional details in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: McCain volunteer admits to hoax.

The update that makes the previous ‘update after all others’ into a lie: I just noticed another coincidence: Both Ashleys apparently have found themselves volunteering in Pittsburgh in the closing days of the campaign. What do you think the chances are that they’ve actually met? Or that they might meet now that they’ve both been processed by the campaign newsgrinder? Maybe a joint appearance on one of those hair-pulling daytime reality shows? It’s a little embarrassing, but yeah, I’d probably watch that. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Which means there’s probably a TV show low enough to try to make it happen.

I can no longer keep track of which update this is: Over at 538, Sean Quinn points out that there is still another Ashley to keep track of: The one Bush hugged during the 2004 campaign: The three Ashleys.

The update that dare not speak its name: Greg Sargent at TPM has a followup item: McCain campaign attacks TPM, keeps denying our “carved B” story. In a nutshell, the McCain campaign continues to claim that “the liberal blog post” (TPM’s reporting about the two Pennsylvania TV stations that independently reported that Peter Feldman, McCain’s state spokesperson, told them the story that Ashley Todd’s attacker carved a “B” in her face that stood for “Barack”, after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car) “has no basis in fact.”

The McCain campaign is obviously lying about this. It’s not a huge deal; not even a particularly big lie compared to some of the others they’ve pushed — and continued to push — even after the facts are out there in the public eye. But it’s a lie nevertheless.

3 Responses to “Did the McCain Campaign Push the Carved-B Hoax?”

  1. NorthernLite Says:

    I’m so glad this is almost over, it’s getting downright nuts! When you incite hate, as McCain was doing for a few weeks, this kind of shit happens.

    And what’s with…

    Joe the Plumber? (who doesn’t pay taxes, isn’t registered to vote and would actually receive a tax cut under Obama’s plan)

    Mark the Mechanic? (who I read is a terrible mechanic and has ripped off old people, people like McCain, when they brought their cars in to be fixed)

    Tito the Builder? (might be a copyright infringement on “Bob the Builder”. I’ll check with my niece)

    Has this election been reduced to 2nd grade level? Is this what their big plan is? Win the highest office in the world using props? LMAO.

    If people weren’t hacking their faces all to hell and getting really crazy, I would want this to continue, it’s very entertaining!

  2. enkidu Says:

    Our Ashley is a hero.

    Their Ashley is a zero.

  3. knarlyknight Says:


    – precisely. (JBC seems to have lost his sense of balance in copmaring the two. )

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