TODD RECANTS, WILL FACE CHARGES…. A painful ending to a sordid story.

Police sources tell KDKA that a campaign worker has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter “B” in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker.

Ashley Todd, 20, of Texas, initially told police that she was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield and that the suspect became enraged and started beating her after seeing her GOP sticker on her car. […]

This afternoon, a Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Todd confessed to making up the story.

The commander added that Todd will face charges; but police have not commented on what those charges will be.

It certainly seemed to be headed in this direction. The AP reported this afternoon that Ashley Todd, the McCain volunteer, did not appear in bank surveillance footage at the ATM where the alleged attack occurred, and changed her story to say she’d been knocked unconscious by her assailant. Yesterday, Todd shared with news outlets specific remarks the attacker said during the alleged incident, so this represented a rather dramatic change.

I seriously doubt that the McCain campaign was involved in planning this hoax, but I’ve heard that the campaign was pushing this story to reporters rather aggressively last night, and Fox News and Drudge have been covering it with great enthusiasm (and without much skepticism). Most national news outlets paused, waiting for additional information. It was the right move. No word, as of yet, on contrition from Fox News or Drudge.

In a political context, this sad story won’t help the McCain campaign at all, creating another distraction in a state the campaign is desperate to win.

And in a social context, we have yet another high-profile instance of someone blaming an African-American man for a crime that did not occur.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.