Insanity and Politics: McCain Supporter Attacked in Pittsburgh (NOT)
***FINAL UPDATE, 1:45 p.m., 10/24/08***
Ashley Todd made it all up. She's confessed. From KDKA.com: "Police sources tell KDKA that a campaign worker has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter "B" in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker."
Ashley Todd will face charges.
Be sure to read the updates at the bottom of this post. I've published two more entries about this case:
Police in the Bloomfield area of Pittsburgh, PA say a 20-year-old Ashley Todd may have been viciously assaulted because she had a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on her car. Sounds like it began as a routine robbery; the robber pulled a knife, Todd gave him sixty bucks. Then the criminal saw the McCain bumper sticker on the woman's car. He beat Todd with his hands and fists. Then, bizarrely, he used his knife to scratch a "B" on her face. Police told local Pittsburgh media that Todd refused treatment.
One Pittsburgh news outlet says only that Ashley Todd had the bumper sticker on her car. Another, the Post-Gazette, described the victim as a "McCain staffer" from Texas. The paper also quoted police spokesperson Diane Richards, who said authorities couldn't "substantiate" Todd's story, yet.
The robbery wasn't captured on the bank's security cameras.
According to the Pittsburgh Channel, the Obama campaign has issued a statement about the attack, saying that their "thoughts and prayers are with the young woman for her to make a speedy recovery, and we hope that the person who perpetrated this crime is swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."
CBS 13 published a report online stating that the Republican candidate for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, "spoke with the victim by phone." The McCain campaign has issued their own statement about the crime, calling it "sick and disgusting."
This crime is so bizarre and potentially politically-charged it's already produced a screaming, bold-red headline at the Drudge Report. Be prepared to hear a lot more about it.
Edited To Add: In the comments below, "Happy" gave this link for the cached MySpace of an Ashley Todd from College Station, TX. She gives her age as 23, but otherwise, she appears to resemble the victim in this case. The headline on this Ashley Todd's now-private profile reads, "Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her cloths off, but its better if you do" -- a riff on a song by Panic! at the Disco, but an interesting choice anyway. It may be the wrong Ashley Todd, but the shape of her face and hair seem similar. I've also saved a copy of the page. Also, thanks to my fellow crime blogger Chris, we have what appears to be a link to a Twitter account for the same Ashley Todd.
Click the thumbnail of a screen capture of that Twitter account above and read it. It appears to be a narrative covering her arrival in Pittsburgh, her search for an ATM, and an allusion to what happened afterwards. You be the judge as to how believable it is -- or not.
ETA II, Electric Boogaloo: If you want to read some of Ashley Todd's blogging between 2006 and 2008 or so, just click this -- copy of blog.myspace.com/rabbitrocker. Based on political views, name, age range, and home town, it seems clear that "rabbitrocker" Ashley is the same Ashley Todd who reported the bizarre mugging in Pittsburgh last night.
Just in case you think it's only people in the center and on the left of center who doubt this story, read this post by popular, arch-conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. Whatever you think about Malkin's politics, she is anything but stupid. Malkin writes:
"I’ve reported on the great lengths that warped attention-seekers have gone to in perpetrating fake hate crimes, including beating themselves up, carving swastikas on their dorm room doors and walls, locking themselves in bathroom stalls, and burning down their own houses.
"Which is why I’m not jumping up and down with outrage over Drudge-promoted story of a McCain volunteer claiming to have been attacked by a black man whom she accused of carving a “B” in her face after spotting her McCain bumper sticker."
Michelle Malkin's perceptions are dead-on. And Ashley Todd's contrived Twitters from last night as well as her strange MySpace headline about "lying" all lend support to the idea that she could be, as Malkin put it, one of those "warped attention-seekers." The other shoe on this story will drop by tomorrow, and any sympathy left for Ashley Todd on the right or the left will dry up immediately. I admit it now -- I began doubting the story almost immediately, but I held my fire till now. I knew I might be right when friends who are McCain supporters began to express their own doubts. Malkin's skepticism seals it, though -- this story is hogwash.
**Last Update for this post**
A reader pointed out some interesting things about the Google cache of Ashley Todd's MySpace:
-- She was pulling for Ron Paul at one point. Just look at the page. This may not be significant, but I figured it was worth a mention.
-- Her last login was October 17, last Friday. The page has only been made private in the last 6 days, otherwise Google couldn't have cached it. My guess is that she made it private after reporting the "mugging."
-- Something I noticed, which isn't related to this at all -- I get the impression she either knew or was friends with murder victim Ashton Glover, based on a video embedded in the page dedicated to Ashton. I only noticed this because one of the last articles I wrote for Court TV's (now TruTV's) Crime Library was about Ashton's murder, which took place 2 years ago in Sugar Land, TX.
Also, from reader "ruth G," there's this late development: "Police planned to administer a polygraph test to Ashley Todd, 20, because her statements about the attack conflict with evidence from the Citizens Bank ATM where she claims the incident occurred, police said." Emphasis was added.