Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Followup on Burgess Call for McCain Campaign Apology

Here's a quick followup to Tuesday's posts, which were copies of e-mails I'd received.

Pittsburgh Councilman Reverend Ricky Burgess charged that last Thursday a McCain-Palin campaign official in Pennsylvania had been feeding reporters a version of the Ashley Todd hoax that was "far more explosive" than details confirmed by police at the time. Burgess called for an apology from the Republican ticket.

20-year old McCain field representative Ashley Todd later admitted on Friday that she'd made the whole thing up; there was no black robber who carved the letter 'B' -- as in "Barack Obama" -- into her face because she is a McCain supporter. Now, Burgess cites reports on the Talking Points Memo website in making his case that the campaign stoked the later-disproven controversy. TPM quoted KDKA-TV's News Director as saying the McCain campaign's Pennsylvania communications director gave one of his reporters details of the false report -- including the fake quotes from the imaginary attacker -- all before police confirmed any details. KDKA-TV's News Director did not return our call for comment.

Meanwhiile, MSNBC quoted a WPXI reporter who confirmed getting that information from a McCain campaign spokesman as well. WPXI's News Director tells us his station did not air any details of Todd's claims until they were confirmed by police as appearing in a police report.

Councilman Burgess accuses the McCain campaign of "inflaming the divisions of this country." He says "I don't know why they chose to push this story, but it just seems suspicious to me that they would target this story which has a fictional African-American person harming a non-African American person in this city."

McCain campaign spokesman Jeff Sadosky tells Channel 4 Action News:

"The liberal blog post that the councilman cites has no basis in fact. The McCain campaign had no role in this incident. We hope the young woman involved in the incident gets the help that she needs, It's disappointing that Pittsburgh law enforcement time and resources were wasted by her false allegations."

WTAE News Director Bob Longo says Channel 4 Action News confirmed all of its information about what was in the crime report with Pittsburgh Police before it aired the story. The McCain campaign did not comment to WTAE about the case until after our story based on police information had aired.


[The Burgess letter. Click images to enlarge.]


Bram Reichbaum said...

So did WPXI confirm to you that the the McCain camp pushed an incendiary version of the story? Did they give you a name of a reporter?

It sounds like all of the news directors would rather curtly deny that their judgment could have been affected by any political operation at all, rather than confirm basic facts to one another that the McCain campaign ran amok in our city peddling filth. Start cooperating already!

Once again, a spokesperson utters the magic word "blog" and slips away into the night, while the media goes limp and mutters darkly to itself.

Bob Mayo said...


WPXI's News Director emphasized what he described as a very important point: that his staff did not report any of the details until authorities confirmed the content of the police report on Todd's claims. When I pressed, he did not dispute MSNBC's account of who said what to his reporter and when.

Maria said...

Fine and dandy, BUT would WPXI have gone to the police for confirmation without being told about the story from the McCain camp and Drudge? No, of course not! They would have had nothing to confirm.

So, the story went from McCain camp to Drudge and then to media via Mccain camp or media seeing it on Drudge, then media checks with police to confirm it.

Do I have that right?