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A Hoax Mugging

There’s something luridly fishy—and disgustingly familiar in a Mockingbird kind of way—about a McCain volunteer’s claim that she was mugged by a “black” man and had her face carved with a “B” because he saw a McCain sticker on her car.

Here’s what the Post-Gazette is writing (the italics are mine):

“Pittsburgh Police are investigating a report by a campaign staffer for John McCain that she was mugged and the letter B was cut into her face following a robbery in Bloomfield last night. Police say the 20-year-old woman, who is from Texas, reported that the attack occurred around 9 p.m. after she withdrew $60 from an ATM at Liberty Avenue and Pearl Street. She said a man armed with a knife demanded her money. She gave it to him and began walking toward her car, which has McCain stickers. Although the robber had moved away from her, he became agitated when he saw her car, punched her in the back of the head, pushed her to the ground and carved a B into her face, she reported.

I highlight the description because in the photograph of the woman, Ashley Todd, she has a black eye, which, generally speaking, is the result of trauma to the front of the head.

"This is what she's telling police," police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. "We can't substantiate it at this time."


Another curious comment from law enforcement, who generally don’t cast doubt on police reports before the ink is dry. The inverted B is a curiosity as well, on two counts: inversion is itself odd, but “carving” a B on someone’s face isn’t like carving an X or an I or an L, it’s a multi-motion act that, with a knife to boot, requires a bit of time and care, especially if the result, as in this case, is as seemingly even. People who are getting their face carved in generally—generally, of course—don’t sit still for the experience, as if in a tattoo parlor. They’re generally—generally, of course—terrified and shaken. This B doesn’t look either shaky or shaken.

Police are checking video footage from a bank surveillance camera. Ms. Richard said the woman, who police are not identifying publicly, declined medical treatment at the scene. The suspect is described as black, 6 feet 4 inches, about 200 pounds. He was wearing dark clothing.

The proverbial assailant is always black, always big, always wearing dark clothing, and usually operates on dark and stormy nights in dark alleys. Plus, the alleged victim sent her picture straight to the Drudge Report. No medical attention for a stranger's blade on the cheek, but a lunge for Drudge. Fishier and fishier.

Interestingly, the measured response to the mugging is coming from no less a place than Hot Air, Michelle Malkin’s Mussolinesque yellfest at all things liberal and larger-minded. Ed Morrissey writes:

I don’t think this says anything terribly significant about the election or either candidate.  Criminals aren’t known for their kindness, temperament, or intellect, and this particular criminal sounds like he’s a couple of bricks short of a load even for that crowd.  The initial crime had nothing to do with politics at all, so it’s not an example of partisan thuggery as one would expect some to paint it.

I’m sure that the two campaigns will be sure to reach out to the woman.  Someone will undoubtedly press the Obama campaign for a reaction, and will get the obligatory and emphatic denunciation that everyone would expect.  We have many more important issues to debate, and many more cogent reasons to oppose Barack Obama than the offhand cruelty of one criminal in Pittsburgh. […] Let’s remember that Bill Gwatney got shot to death in an Arkansas Democratic HQ in June.  It’s dangerous to generalize on partisan lines when discussing one disturbing act of violence.

Update V: Some people are already saying “hoax”; I think that’s unlikely (but still possible).  Thanks to the local news report, we know the attack occurred.  Not too many young women would scar their faces just to create a political hoax.

I get the feeling that what’s going on here is that even Morrissey (who blared the story in a gorilla-size headline on his site before reducing it to his fly-swat font) is sensing, possibly fearing, a hoax. Drudge isn't. There's the unassailable: a mugging is a mugging. Revolting whatever the circumstances. But if this does end up being a hoax, in do-or-die battleground Pennsylvania of all places, it’ll be yet another smear on the McCain campaign, no matter how unassociated the campaign itself may be with it (although with this campaign, you never know). Not just a smear, but an insult, primarily and especially to Pennsylvanians, who won’t likely react very happily at the polls.

Friday Update: Pittburgh Police are requesting that Todd take a polygraph test because her statements are conflicting with evidence.

Friday Update II: She has recanted. Bigot .

Also: McCain Spokesman Implicated In Mugger Hoax

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