The story begins last Thursday, when a reporter from Pittsburgh television station KDKA called the Pennsylvania McCain campaign after the Drudge Report — an online conduit for right-wing talking pooints — ran a big red banner saying, “MCCAIN VOLUNTEER ATTACKED AND MUTILATED IN PITTSBURGH… MUGGER CARVED B ON ME…” If you think Drudge was tipped off by the Pittsburgh police, rather than by someone in the McCain campaign, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.
According to KDKA news director John Verrilli, it was Pennsylvania McCain spokesman Peter Feldman, in the absence of any confirmed facts, who told the media that the mugger saw a McCain bumper sticker on Ashley Todd’s car, and that the B stood for Barack. Mr. Feldman fed the same story to a WPXI-TV reporter, even though the assistant chief of the Pittsburgh police department’s investigative division later said, “We suspected [her story] was false from the beginning.”
Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the national McCain campaign, claimed that the KDKA and WPXI stories were the product of “sloppy reporting,” that the incendiary quotes — despite on-the-record statements about their source by both stations — didn’t come from Peter Feldman, but rather from the police. Even if you believe that Peter Feldman was just repeating what he had heard from the police, it is nevertheless arguable, as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said, that Mr. Feldman’s actions showed “not just a willingness to believe it, but an eagerness to incite a …racial backlash against the Obama campaign.”
by Marty Kaplan at Huffington Post: Move Over, Willie Horton