Saturday, October 25, 2008

Todd the Fraud: A Hoax is a Hoax, Of Course, of Course...

There has been much rhetorical hyperventilation over the hoax perpetuated by a McCain volunteer in Pittsburgh, PA named Ashely Todd. Todd alleged the perpetrator was a six-foot-four black man/Obama supporter who supposedly attacked her leaving a black eye and a "B" carved on her face to make "his" point:

Needless to say, once the hoax was hyped to death in the news media, the hoax was finally exposed, leaving those who hyped it with embarrassed-red looks on their faces.

As Sam Stein reported on the Huffington Post, "Several media outlets (the vast majority conservative) were left with egg on their faces after they trumpeted up the tale of a McCain volunteer who claimed to have been assaulted by a large black man because of a McCain bumper sticker on her car. On her face was carved a backwards 'B' (meant to represent Obama's name). The Drudge Report called it "mutilation."

Meanwhile, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez called out those in the news media for falling for the hoax and taking the bait, naming the outlets that not only reported but actively pushed the story of Ashley Todd. In addition to explaining why his station didn't report the story, Sanchez dug the knife in a bit deeper when it came to Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio talk show host who appeared on CNN Thursday and blamed "that side" (i.e. the Democrats) for engaging in "extraordinarily" disturbing acts.

As Sanchez explains, "Part of the story is the fact that it was reported by the media," said Sanchez. "We would not be telling the story now had it not been carried by so many outlets. As I mentioned before, it was mentioned on, as a matter of fact I have a list and not to mention names, but the initials of the news organizations are Fox News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Newsday. And also radio talk show hosts went on their radio stations and talked ad infinitum about the story yesterday, one of them even seemingly being a braggadocio about it when he was on the air with our own Wolf Blitzer yesterday."

It is bad enough that we have enough low-lifes and thugs out there running loose, creating campaign chaos and fomenting hatred without having to manufacture them in the first place. Hate crimes hoaxes perpetrated by anyone, regardless of any political persuasion, and of any gender, skin color or sexual orientation, serves to denigrate and to diminish us all.

Which leads into Joan Walsh's take on the affair at

"Why were so many people on the right so ready to believe such a disturbing tale based on so little evidence? Was the story of a violent 6-foot-4-inch black man -- how tall is Obama? --punishing a white female McCain voter too good not to be true? It's hard not to see the troubled Ashley Todd's story, and its reception on the right, as a result of the climate of fear and demonization that McCain and Palin clearly believe is their only hope to win Nov. 4. Todd needs help, but McCain and Palin need to be criticized for helping to advance this story before the facts were in. It's really one of the most despicable things this awful team has done in a pretty lowlife campaign. There's no doubt in my mind that the anti-Obama slurs ("pallin' around with terrorists") that have come from Sarah Palin's lovely and expensively lacquered mouth helped create a climate that leads a disturbed person like Todd to her drama of victimization."

Jonathan Chain brings some more insight into this sordid mess: "I don't think the actions of one sick volunteer say anything at all about John McCain or his campaign. They do, however, tell us a lot about right-wing yellow journalists, from (Matt) Drudge on down, who manipulated primitive racial-sexual fears for partisan gain."

John McCain and Sarah Palin share some responsibility for this sordid affair. They set up the entire incident with their race-baiting stunts on the campaign trail. A McCain staffer fed what was obviously an embellished lie to the media even before the facts were known, intimately aware of what public action would be. GOP partisans and their sycophants in the blogsphere took the fabrication and ran with it. And once again, McCain has shown extremely poor judgment by inserting himself directly into this incident. He jumped into this hoax by making personal contact with this faux victim without a scintilla of forethought or even bothering to learn the facts first. This further proves a pattern and practice of behavior revolving around John McCain and Sarah Palin: they both shoot from the hip when a crisis arises and does not worry about the ramifications and potential consequences until later.

Now doesn't it make you wonder why those who were shrieking about it like mindless banshees just happen to be the same intellectually-challenged souls who mindlessly perpetuate those stupid urban legend e-mail hoaxes?

Whatever happened to logic and critical thinking? Are these people on drugs?

People who enjoy good mental and emotional health do not generally engage in these sorts of self-destructive, delusional, and irrational behaviors. And unfortunately, this is not a new a phenomenon or even a new a newsworthy story as many of know may know by now.

The likes of Susan Smith and Charles Stuart relied on America's fears of the "Big Black Boogeyman" to veer the focus off of them and onto something more salivating, only to have their ruses exposed at the end. Still, the collateral damage has already been done. Those that choose to continue to believe will do anyway. The whole reason this hoax had legs is because people "want" to believe it to be true. It is a whole different way of seeing reality and the roots of seeing through the filter of ideology.

Talk about the willing suspension of disbelief!

And now, my personal take on the whole sordid affair:

Pathetic beyond words, isn't it?

In closing, the moral of this story comes from
Michelle Malkin
: "Final lesson: Trust your instincts. Use your brains. Stop jumping every time (Matt) Drudge hypes something in Armageddon-sized font."

Now why do you think "Drudge" rhymes with "Sludge?"

Get my drift?

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