“Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over”

That’s what the Executive VP of Fox News said would be the result if “B for Barack” turned out to be a hoax. Well, it turns out to be a hoax, and the McCain campaign helped spread it. Now what?

So said John Moody, Executive VP of Fox News, yesterday. If course there was an “if”: “If the incident [i.e., the alleged “B” for “Barack” slashing] turns out to be a hoax …”

Of course, that “if” has now come to pass. The incident has turned out to be a hoax. The poor, confused girl who made the false police report has now been arrested.

And the McCain campaign is rapidly backing away. The McCain Pennsylvania spokesman quoted by two different media outlets as retailing the “B for Barack” story seems to have disappeared, but another McCain spokesman is now saying that both reporters got it wrong, attributing to the McCain guy things actually said by the police. But one of the reporters still has his notes. And in any case two misquotations of the same person by two different reporters is a coincidence as hard to credit as Ashley Todd’s original confabulation.

Moody was right: at this point, the McCain campaign deserves to be over, “forever linked to race-baiting.” But will Fox News – or anyone but Olbermann – play it that way?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com