Update 3: New Channel 4 Action News video: the Pittsburgh Police spokeswoman says "the victim's statement has a few inconsistencies in it -- and her statement has changed". Todd now is telling police that she was also sexually assaulted, that she "lost consciousness", and that when she awoke she "had a stinging sensation on her face". Earlier updates are at the end of this blog post.
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin is among those questioning the truth behind the story of what happened to McCain volunteer Ashley Todd here in Pittsburgh Wednesday night. Todd claims a robber carved a "B" (as in "Barack Obama") into her face after spotting a McCain bumper sticker on her car parked nearby.
Malkin writes on her website, in a post titled "Why that McCain volunteer’s 'mutilation' story smells awfully weird":
"Maaaaybe the alleged robber straddled her upside-down while carving it into her face."
"But I’ve got my doubts."
You can read the rest of Malkin's post at this link. Her readers take up the discussion in the comments section. As of this posting, major national liberal bloggers haven't touched the story. Watch for updates at the bottom of this post.
The skepticism appears to be fueled in part by the fact that the wound allegedly made during an attack appears to be remarkably symmetrical, neat, and uniformly minor. And it's backwards -- though it wouldn't appear so when looking at it in a mirror.
My first reaction when I saw the photo of McCain volunteer Ashley Todd: someone mistakenly reversed the image... but, no. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story reports that "the man then carved the 'B' into Todd's right cheek", as it appears in the photo.
Ashley Todd has now locked down her Twitter account updates, but here's a screenshot of her messages both before and after the reported incident, courtesy of her participation in a College Republicans group blog.
At Steve Huff's True Crime website, bloggers and commenters are also parsing the details of the story.
Let's check out the scene of the incident with Google Map's Street View. Clicking in the image below allows you to zoom in, out, and around in a circle. Two clicks of the clockwise arrow, followed by two clicks of the plus button will show you the ATM.
View Larger Map
The area appears to be part of Bloomfield's business district -- between West Penn Hospital and the Bloomfield Bridge -- and appears to have restaurants and bars nearby.
Among my questions: are there any witnesses? How busy is that area at that time of evening? There does not appear to be a drive-through ATM at that location; where was the woman's car parked in relation to the sidewalk ATM? Was the McCain phone bank office where the victim was working near the scene? Is it clear why the robber stayed around to watch her go to her car instead of running off with the $60? Did she go back into the phone bank office or into any nearby business after the attack? Some news reports say the woman drove to a friend's home; how far is that from the scene? Other reports say the woman declined treatment at the scene -- is that correct? Who offered treatment and at what point? Another report says the attacker said "you're with the McCain campaign"; is that an accurate quote from the victim to police of the attacker's words? Does she know how he knew she was with the campaign, and not simply a person with a bumper sticker?
Two More Snapshots of Google Street View. Click to Enlarge.
The Smoking Gun includes more posts from Todd's Twitter account at the bottom of its website's story.
Andrew Sullivan weighs in here with his "Joe The Mugger?" post.
Huffington Post now has this entry by Jeffrey Feldman dealing with The Drudge Report's spin on the story. You can also read his analysis on Frameshop.