A spokesman for the McCain campaign gave reporters an inflammatory version of Thursday's hoax story about a McCain volunteer being attacked by a man who carved a "B" into her face, Pittsburgh's KDKA reported.
Long before any facts about the Ashley Todd case had been established, McCain's Pennsylvania campaign communications director told reporters the alleged attacker had told the woman, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."
The Drudge Report featured a teased story about the incident before any details about it were released. That caused KDKA reporters to contact the spokesman, confirmed as Peter Feldman.
Feldman's presumptuous claims are "significant because it reveals a McCain official pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time," an election blog at Talking Points Memo reported.
The story could deal a sharp blow to the McCain campaign, which might be seen as having pushed an incendiary story that had no basis in fact and that nearly blew up into a "national incident," said Pittsburgh Police Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant, reported KWTX News.
Obama's campaign has already privately accused the McCain camp of promoting a racially-charged version of the story.
Todd, reportedly a McCain campaign volunteer, confessed she made up her story about a "big black man" holding her to the ground, carving the "B" into her face and telling her she needed to support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Police were skeptical of Todd's story and "wasted so much time" on what they eventually realized was a hoax, Bryant said in a video available below.
Pittsburgh police now believe Todd may have a history of mental problems and that her wounds were self-inflicted, including the "B" she probably "scratched into her face herself" with a sharp object from her car, WPXI reporter Renee Kaminski said.
Kaminski said there was immediate suspicion about Todd's story.
"I've got to tell you I've been doing this a long time and a lot of folks in our news room, including me yesterday said you know, 'Wait, let's pull back a little bit because this doesn't make sense, this doesn't add up,' and the police knew it and even her friends knew it," Kaminski said in one of the videos below.
Police said Todd will be charged with filing a false police report and are considering other charges as well.
This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast October 24, 2008.