Written by Joan Walsh, posted by: Betsm
His false claim of office gunshots functioned as the Ashley Todd tale of 2010, distracting from right-wing violence
Did House GOP Whip Eric Cantor just become 2010’s answer to Ashley Todd, the white McCain supporter who claimed she was assaulted by a black Obama backer in October 2008?
You remember the story: A 20-year-old McCain-Palin volunteer told Pittsburgh police that a black man robbed her, and then, when he saw a McCain bumper sticker on her car, he beat her and carved a B – for “Barack” — into her cheek, and told her she better support the black Democrat. Days later, the clearly disturbed Todd confessed that she made up the attack, and apparently mutilated herself to provide “evidence.” But for a few days, the right wing insisted Todd’s attacker was the Democratic equivalent of the menacing crowds at Sarah Palin rallies shouting “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!” about Obama. Drudge and Fox News hyped the story, with Fox news V.P. John Moody even claiming the attack might lead some voters to “revisit their support for Senator Obama.”
No one’s accusing Cantor of shooting up his own office, but from the minute he made his claim — also implying he was targeted because he was Jewish — it was almost certain to be untrue. In the very first AP report on the incident, the Richmond police said the bullet had been fired into the air, not through Cantor’s window. Two photos in Salon show that the nondescript office building is unmarked, with no signs indicating Cantor or his staff have one of the suites inside. Friday Richmond police confirmed the bullet was a stray: Neither Cantor nor his office was targeted, and in fact the bullet didn’t even land in his office. A spokesman for Cantor told reporters he was “very happy” his story turned out not to be true.
But just as Ashley Todd’s tale interrupted a narrative of right-wing menace and near-violence about Obama, briefly letting commentators tsk-tsk about extremes on both sides, Cantor’s claim interjected the same kind of false equivalence. On CNN Thursday night, Gloria Borger insisted not only should tea partiers rein in their members, but “Move On too” (h/t Greg Mitchell). It’s crazy time.
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