Jewish Journal: Move over, Willie Horton

Jewish Journal

Move over, Willie Horton

I just hope Peter Feldman isn’t Jewish.

In my parents’ New Jersey home, when the perpetrator of some awful act in the news was not yet known, I could always count on them to say, “I hope he isn’t Jewish.”

Peter Feldman is the McCain-Palin campaign’s communications director in Pennsylvania. 

I don’t know Peter Feldman, and the only mayhem he’s suspected of is metaphorical, and the drip, drip, drip of evidence against him is coming out in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law. I realize that politics ain’t beanbag, and I’m familiar with the riptides and undertows that can seize anyone working in a presidential campaign, especially an apparently losing one, in its final days. Still, for the sake of the reputation of Jewish ethics, and even for the sake of the reputation of Republicans, I sure hope he didn’t do last week what it kinda sorta looks like he did.

By now everyone knows that Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old McCain volunteer from College Park, Texas who told Pittsburgh police that a 6-foot-4 black man robbed her at an ATM machine and carved a backwards B on her face, has (in the words of a Pennsylvania prosecutor) “not insignificant mental health issues.” She made it all up.

But what everyone may not know is that before the contents of her allegation were fully known, let alone verified, it appears to be Peter Feldman – not the police – who told local reporters that her (fictional) big black assailant said to her, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.” 

Move over, Willie Horton.

The story begins last Thursday, when a reporter from Pittsburgh television station KDKA called the Pennsylvania McCain campaign after the Drudge Report — an online conduit for right-wing talking points — ran a big red banner saying, “MCCAIN VOLUNTEER ‘ATTACKED AND MUTILATED’ IN PITTSBURGH… MUGGER CARVED ‘B’ ON ME…” (If you think Drudge was tipped off by the Pittsburgh police, rather than by someone in the McCain campaign, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.)

According to KDKA News Director John Verrilli, it was Pennsylvania McCain spokesman Peter Feldman, in the absence of any confirmed facts, who told the media that the mugger saw a McCain bumper sticker on Ashley Todd’s car, and that the B stood for Barack. Mr. Feldman fed the same story to a WPXI-TV reporter, even though the assistant chief of the Pittsburgh police department’s investigative division later said, “We suspected [her story] was false from the beginning.”

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