News out now that the McCain campaign caught wind of Ashley Todd's racist hoax and was pushing racist anti-Obama angles on the story, spinning it against Obama and attempting to fan the flames of hatred.
Keep in mind, Ashley Todd is a McCain volunteer in their Pittsburgh office. So although I'm speculating here, there may well have been other McCain campaign volunteers and staffers involved in this hoax as well.
But what is coming to light is proof that McCain campaign staffers in Pennsylvania were actively involved in promoting the anti-Obama angle of this story in the press, trying to gain coverage on the incident that would be damaging to the Obama campaign.
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.
Spin provided by the McCain campaign was included in KDKA's story but subsequently removed after the Obama campaign privately complained to the KDKA management that "KDKA was letting the McCain campaign spin a racially-charged version of the story before the facts had been established, according to two sources familiar with the discussions."
Here's a screenshot of what was removed from the KDKA web site version of the story, captured by TPM:
After the story appeared on KDKA's site and this and other pieces in the local press started flying around the political world, an Obama spokesperson in the state angrily insisted to KDKA that it was irresponsible for the station to air the McCain spokesperson's incendiary version of events before the facts were fully known, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.
After that, KDKA went back to McCain's Pennsylvania spokesperson, Feldman, and asked if he stood by the story as he'd earlier told it, but he started backing off the story, a source familiar with the talks says. That prompted KDKA to remove the grafs.
I'm not surprised that right wing racists in the blogopshere jumped all over this, pushing their racist spin on this story hard and fast -- after all, that's what racists do -- but evidence that the McCain organization was also fanning the racist flames is absolutely shocking.
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