Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain Volunteer Makes Up Robbery Story, On The Trail, And The Race Factor In Politics

Hi everybody. Did you miss me? Sorry about the absence of Thursday's post. I've been really tired lately and after the show, a battle broke out between blogging and sleeping, and, well, sleeping won. I blame election stress. Or respiratory failure. Whichever. Anyway, I do want to note who was named the number one culprit of the collapse, since I've so diligently blogged all the others. Are you ready for this? The culprit is you. Yes, you! Way to go America; you totally messed up our economy. I have to say, I was quite surprised to find out that I fall in with the people I have lovingly been referring to as the, "assholes who screwed us over." Because, I mean, I'm so nice. And frugal.

But 360 has pulled a Time and named me, er, 'you' as one of the occupiers of the culprit wall, so I suppose I shall accept my guilt. Too bad they couldn't build my spot with that reflecty metalized PET film strip that Time used for their cover. That would have been cool. But you know what? This is so not my fault. I pay off my credit card every month, I pay rent, I own my car outright (just made the last payment a month ago, thank you very much), and the only debt I have is one student loan. I do not buy fancy things and I can count on my hand the number of times I've been out to eat at a nice restaurant this past year. And I wouldn't need all five fingers.

So, while I may be to blame for many things in this life, I don't think our collapsing economy is one of them. I do agree with the choice in a general sense though, but fer serious, no mention of Bush? Really? Also, while we're pointing the finger of blame, our friends at 360 have curiously been silent about their hand in the matter. Being journalists and all, their job is to hold those in power accountable. And yeah, they're doing a good job now in pointing out all these culprits, but the whole after-the-fact thing really isn't helping us all that much. Because all this crap didn't just happen overnight and the public probably would have been much better served to hear about financial rumblings than, say, the identity of Anna Nicole Smith's baby daddy. And don't try to pretend like you didn't cover that story as though someone found a cure for cancer, 360. I have proof. Will we get an acknowledgment and apology from them? I'm thinking that's a no.

Okay, so I'm done with that now. On to tonight's show! More BREAKING NEWS of course, and this one's a doosey . McCain volunteer Ashley Todd has just been arraigned after claiming that she was sexually assaulted and robbed by an Obama supporter, all of which she seems to have completely made up. Randi then joins us live in the studio with more. As Todd's story goes, a tall black man robbed her at knife point at an ATM and her McCain bumper sticker caused him to become enraged and carve a "B" (for Barack) into her face. Clue number one that this was all BS was that the "B" was on her face backwards, as if done by using a mirror. Police had Todd take a polygraph, which she failed, and everything just unraveled. There never was a big scary black man with a knife. And given the discussion of race that occurs later in the show, I'm kinda surprised that her choice of perp mostly goes by unnoticed. There's a pretty blatant exploitation of racial fears going on with this story.

Two other angles are mostly going uncovered by the show here as well, the first being the involvement of the McCain campaign. Now, before I got any further, I want to make clear that though I've blogged fairly extensively about the incitement of hatred by the McCain/Palin campaign in the past, I believe the case of Todd is an isolated incident, committed by a most-likely sick woman. That being said, there is some nasty politics as play here. As reported by Talking Points Memo, local reporters have confirmed that McCain's Pennsylvania communications director told them "facts" about the incident before police had a chance to get to the bottom of what happened. Brian Williams even noted on the Nightly News that the McCain campaign steered reporters to the story.

Make no mistake about it, they saw a political win in Todd's "assault," perhaps hoping to counter all the documented instances of hatred at their rallies. I'd also wager they were hoping to stoke racial fears and drive people from Obama's side, though barring the uncovering of a memo or transcript, that's unprovable speculation on my part. I should also point out that the story seems to only have been pushed at the local level. There is no evidence that McCain's national campaign had any role in this other than to call Todd after the "incident" occurred. Given all the whispering about the state of the campaign right now, I would be surprised to learn that they did coordinate a push of the story.

As for the other angle, not covered, well, that would be the media itself. Most mainstream outlets held off in reporting the false story (including CNN--yay!), but not everyone did, and I think they should be called out. Because, c'mon, even an amateur would take a look at that story, as I did, and think to themselves, "Oh, that's awful. But hm, it sounds kind of weird. I think I'll wait and see what happens with this one." I mean, you don't just go reporting unconfirmed crap willy nilly. There's plenty of that stuff on both sides. But some news organizations did report the crap willy nilly and I'm not just talking about the usual right wing blog suspects like Drudge. Fox News was all over this thing and though that didn't exactly shock me, I was pretty blown away that their own Executive Vice President of News Editorial, John Moody, said this (via TVNewser):
If Ms. Todd's allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.
If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
Wow. So . . . yeah. That's messed up. I was hoping 360 would do some calling out (though a subsequent Randi Kaye piece does show a clip of Hugh Hewitt), but perhaps they'd rather just avoid the Fox News wrath, what with Greta seemingly losing a little bit of her sanity with every blog post. Is there a word for something that's below unprofessional? Seriously, someone needs an intervention. Or a reassignment to the position of unemployed. Anyway, Rick Sanchez, who has surprisingly been impressing me lately, did name names. Although, I still think his show resembles what it would look like if the Internet went on a coke bender and then threw up on television. Just saying.

I think I'm going to skip Candy Crowley's piece from the trail since this post is so long already, but I do want to note the clip of Obama walking sadly in his old neighborhood while visiting his sick grandmother. Candy tells us he walked "almost alone in his old neighborhood in Honolulu." Well, except for the cameras! I'd say they need to leave him alone right now, but I guess the prying cameras are something he's going to have to be dealing with; hopefully for the next eight years.

On now to our nightly panel with current seat-warmers as follows: David Gergen, Jamal Simmons, and Alex Castellanos. The Gerg thinks the Todd hoax is all a distraction committed by a seemingly sick woman and it should all be "forgiven and forgotten." Alex jokes that the next time someone is going to carve a letter in their face they should choose an "O" and not a "B" because it wouldn't matter if it was revered. The Gerg laughs, but I actually don't think that's very funny. "Well, I mean, this person is clearly just -- I mean, obviously disturbed," says Anderson Cooper. Thank you. Jamal then brings up how the right was foaming at the mouth over this story before it was found out to be a hoax, charging that Obama had to take responsibility. Well, what can I say, the right is crazy. They obviously don't understand the difference between an isolated incident and a presidential candidate inciting hate, which is something their guy did, not Obama.

The conversation also focused on the total fail that is the McCain campaign and Anderson asks if the current whispers of infighting are true. "I think, if the lights go out, dive for the floor. There are going to be gunshots," says Alex. Whoa, and we're talking GOP here, so you know they're all packing. Next, the panel talks gaffes and Jamal notes that Biden's recent foot-in-mouth incident about Obama being tested was actually slightly taken out of context. "But, Jamal, he did get kind of in the weeds on him. And then he went on to say -- it was like this hypothetical that he then kind of had all sorts of other ancillary comments to, like, we're going to do something, but you're not going to like what we're going to do, but we want you to support it," says Anderson, and Jamal somewhat concedes the point. I actually agree with Anderson on this, but why WHY could he not do this same kind of calling out when Bay was calling Obama a socialist the other night? I don't like it when I'm yelling at my TV because of Anderson. Don't like it one bit.

Transitioning now to a segment called "Uncovering America: Race and Politics," which involved Joe Johns sitting down with a group of black voters of all political stripes and Tom Foreman talking with a similar group of white voters. They then talk politics and race, with Tom and John joining Soledad O'Brien and Roland Martin live with Anderson to discuss what the groups said. This was actually a very interesting segment to watch and I enjoyed hearing the four reporters' take (especially Soledad), but I'm a little confused as to why we're talking about this now. Haven't we done the whole race discussion a zillions times? Anyway, I'm only going to point out things of note because indepth blogging of this would be way difficult.

The Bradley effect is discussed among our panel and this turns into a discussion about code words, which I totally agree are used (full disclosure: I'm white). Joe doesn't really seem to give an opinion about code words, but Roland and Soledad strongly agree they're used. Tom, on the other hand, kinda argues that a lot of white people don't know about code words and some of the words could mean things other than a racial context. I can buy that, but he's coming off more dismissive of the use of code words than maybe he means to be. Roland and Soledad both admit that minorities are probably sensitive to certain words and Roland likens it to a white person noticing he's the only white person in a room, but not noticing everyone in a room is white.

That's an interesting point. I would most likely notice if I was the only white person in a room, but that being said, I would also probably notice, and have noticed on previous occasions, an absence of black people. I think it depends on where you grew up and where you currently live. But anyway, Soledad's story about her friend rejecting the school because the official referred to her and her daughter as "girls" was also interesting because I'm not sure I would have picked up on that as a code word. Obviously saying "ladies" would have been the better choice, but I kinda doubt the woman meant anything racial. Finally, the last thing I wanted to talk about was Reverend Wright. Why does 360 keep bringing him up? The story is over. Let it go. The average voter doesn't care.

The Shot tonight is a candidate dance-off! Check out the slightly disturbing hilarity here. Can I just say that the words, "I would tap that, my friend," should never ever be said? At least this wasn't Fuse's pants-off dance-off because . . . oh my.

Randi Kaye manned the webcast tonight and man, she gets right on it. While Erica Hill is often still talking after the commercial break is over, Randi started talking before it started. Someday they'll get that delay thing down. Anyway, Randi talked to us about the hoax girl and then got some in-studio opinions. It is Floor Crew Friday after all. Frank thinks the whole thing is strange. A guy who we'll just call Mr. Big Teddy Bear believes the girl needs mental help. And then a camera dude (Names, people. We need names!) hiding in the shadows goes a step further, deeming her in need of a padded room. In the next and final webcast I saw, Randi goes to talk to Anderson and Soledad, who are in deep discussion. Conversing about the economy perhaps? The crazy election? Oh no, they were talking about the show Real Housewives of Atlanta. No, I'm not kidding. Bwah! Okay, I've accepted that Anderson is a weird trash TV loving (yet adorable) freak, but Soledad, you too?! *Sigh* What am I going to do with these CNNers? That'll do it.


Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

I did miss you. I look forward to reading your nightly blog. I am bothered by the You for culprit, also. The credit companies kept sending cards and increasing credit limits for almost anyone. With inflation the way it is, it was tempting for a lot of people to use them to purchase items, pay for medical bills, etc. After both Susan Smith and the guy in Boston who killed his wife and blamed a black guy, I am wary when such a story comes up. I watched the tape from NBC's Brian Williams and read TPM, it's very chilling and telling that anyone would use this and think it's good for political gain. Eliza, how is your respiratory condition coming along? Is it getting better for you? I will be in Missour"a" to visit my parents in a week. I am hoping for sweater/jacket weather. The last 3 trips that I planned in late October were met with warmer than average tempatures. One trip it was acutally warmer in MO than in FL.
Anne D.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Duffy said...

I have nothing intelligent to say, except . . .

Although, I still think his show resembles what it would look like if the Internet went on a coke bender and then threw up on television.


12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eliza, hope you are feeling better.

I was so upset with David last night, when he laughed at the "O" comment, but very proud of Anderson for not laughing. This lady definatly needs some help, but laughing at her is not the way to go. Anderson's comment that she need helped was the appropriate way for him to go.

I think last nights show was one of the better ones that have been on lately. I liked the discussion with Joe, Tom, Solidad and Roland.

Enjoy your weekend.

1:20 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anne--No, I'm not really getting any better. But my appeal to my insurance company for respiratory therapy was successful and I start in a couple weeks. I'll just have to see how it goes.

If you're coming here, bring clothing for all seasons. Heh. I once experienced spring, summer, and fall during a single baseball game.

@duffy--It's funny, cos it's true. ;P

@anonymous--Yeah, I was a little surprised that The Gerg laughed at that. The whole situation is messed up.

1:31 AM  

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