WHAT DID THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN PUSH AND WHEN DID IT PUSH IT?…. It’s highly unlikely that Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, and other senior McCain campaign aides were actively involved in pushing the Ashley Todd hoax. It’s equally unlikely that anyone at the Crystal City headquarters had foreknowledge of the disgusting stunt and/or was involved in its coordination.
But now that the charade has ended and Todd will be held responsible for her deception, it’s not unreasonable to expect a fuller accounting of the McCain campaign’s role.
When it comes to national media, TNR’s Gabriel Sherman spoke with two reporters who are are traveling with the McCain campaign and they said they “had not been told of the now-bogus assault story” on Thursday. Last night, however, NBC’s Brian Williams noted on the air, “The McCain campaign steered reporters’ attention to the story” on Thursday. It sounds like a point in need of clarification.
Moreover, Greg Sargent reports that McCain campaign officials in Pennsylvania actively pushed the hoax on local reporters, and promoted quotes from the attacker who didn’t exist.
John McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.
John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”
Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the “B” stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.
What’s more, there were, in fact, two Pittsburgh television stations that specifically quoted the McCain campaign on Thursday night as part of its coverage of the Todd story.
Given this, the connection between this racist, demagogic hoax and the McCain campaign, at least at the state level, is fairly obvious — and in need of an explanation.
Will McCain hold anyone in his Pennsylvania office responsible for what transpired? Has anyone been disciplined or fired? Is McCain comfortable with his campaign’s role in race-based fear mongering?
At this point, we’re still waiting for some kind of reaction and/or repudiation from McCain campaign headquarters.