Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ashley Todd "B" Hoax -- Behind The Cameras

A post in three parts:
Cameras Over Bloomfield, Elite or Deceit, Anatomy Of A Story

Cameras Over Bloomfield

Let's start with a story I was working on that was eclipsed by Ashley Todd's confession that there was no knife-weilding, "B" carving attacker. it reveals some of the facts available to Pittsburgh Police during their questioning of the of young woman.

It turns out that Todd picked a Pittsburgh neighborhood business district with a heavy concentration of surveillance cameras as the location for her fictional attack.

I confirmed Friday that private security cameras operated by members of The Bloomfield Business Association monitor the stretch of storefronts and sidewalks from the Bloomfield Bridge to West Penn Hospital -- including the site of McCain campaign volunteer's fabricated assault.

Bloomfield Business Association President Ben Foreman tells me the cameras are maintained by organization members in a program funded with help from the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and other community leaders.

He says that up to three cameras covering the area in question are maintained by Father John Dinello, pastor at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, which is across the street from the spot in question. Foreman tells me that Citizens Bank has at least one other camera in the front of its Bloomfield branch, in addition to the one inside the ATM where Todd claimed she'd been attacked.

Foreman could not say whether Pittsburgh Police had checked video from the additional cameras. He describes the crime rate in that area as "very low". Father Dinello did not return calls for comment.

John Carman has since updated the Bloomfield Business Association's website with a post called "B" is for Bloomfield.

Elite Or Deceit?

The Daily Kos' Sean Oliver argues the case that Todd is "a lot more than just a 'low-level McCain volunteer', noting that she was "recruited to join an elite, prestigous College Republican leadership team, the 2008 Field Represenative Program."

Oliver links to College Republican National Committee's Field Rep website, which indicates :

"For the past 20 years, the Field Representative Program has been the cornerstone of the College Republican National Committee. With programs in the Fall and the Spring, we deploy dozens of young, highly trained field operatives across the country to recruit new students to join the College Republicans..."

"...The 2008 Field Team is by far the most ambitious in our organization's history. 50 field reps are deployed from coast-to-coast, equipped with cutting edge technology and innovative recruitment tools to help them accomplish their mission."

The American Spectator looks Behind the Ashley Todd Hoax, with Robert Stacy McCain quoting College Republican sources who say they had: indication she might be capable of such deceit.
"It's just a bizarre, bizarre situation," said one source.
There was "never any inkling" that Todd was dishonest or emotionally unstable..."

The College Republican National Committee fired Todd on Friday.

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes "Ashley Todd, We Hardly Knew Ye", a blog post whose illustration evokes "To Kill a Mockingbird":

Chait: "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 Drudge on down, who manipulated primitive racial-sexual fears for partisan gain."

The Post-Gazette reports that Todd's friend Dan Garcia was not the one who spread them on the internet.

Mr. Garcia took the widely published picture of Ms. Todd with her injuries. He said he took several photographs with a digital camera to document what had happened. He said he only gave copies of the photos to police and Ms. Todd's employer, the College Republicans.

Pittsburgh Police did not make the photos public.

Anatomy Of A Story

Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo is questioning whether anyone in the McCain campaign worked to feed inflammatory false details to Pittsburgh news media.

Josh Marshall writes:

It is time for the McCain campaign to come clean about what role any of its staffers may have had in hyping or pushing the press to hype the charges stemming from Ashley Todd's vicious and reprehensible hoax.

TPM is pressing its story in four installments, so far:

"McCain Communications Director Gave Reporters Incendiary Version Of "Carved B" Story Before Facts Were Known"

"McCain Campaign Blames Reporters For Spokesperson's Peddling Of Incendiary "Carved B" Story"

"Who Do You Believe?"

"Time for Answers"


1 comment:

John R. Carman said...

Very interesting listing of facts; particularly about the widely published photo.

Before the confession, I was looking forward to finding out what St. Joseph's cameras caught.