How To Manufacture A Macaca Moment

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Give Ben Tribbett at Not Larry Sabato credit, he’s trying to make a Macaca moment in a Virgina State Senate campaign.

On Thursday he thinks he’s got a scoop about a campaign mailer put out by Jeannemarie Devolites Davis in her race against Chap Petersen. Somehow he hypothesizes that publishing the Petersen family’s information and address and phone number (family info is all over the place and the address/phone number are in the white pages) naturally leads to “child endangerment,” [“Sources tell me that Sharon Petersen has been overwhelmed with hate filled phone calls from this mailing.“]. You’ll see below that the “source” is in all likelihood the Chapster himself and Tribbett is a virtual mouthpiece for Petersen. What does Petersen’s mouthpiece do? He threatens to retaliate against Davis by publishing her home and cell phone number.

Later, he takes marching orders from Petersen to “deep six” the retaliation campaign because reading the comments to the original post they think they might have a “Mecca moment” here, and it would look pretty bad if the candidate and his mouthpiece had sunk into the virtual gutter by publishing non-public information about Davis.

I just got a phone call from Chap Petersen who requested that we not publish the home phone number for Tom Davis and Jeannemarie Devolites Davis. Despite the fact Jeannemarie mailed Chap’s personal information to tens of thousands of people and subjected his small children to harassment from the public, Chap does not want to subject the Davis’s to a similar fate.

I’m still shocked looking at this. And yes, Jeannemarie’s arrow points directly to Sharon Petersen’s name.

UPDATE #2- Sources inside the Fairfax Sheriff’s office tell me they are going to be doing regular surveillance tonight in the Petersen’s neighborhood due to the suddenly heightened threat his family may be under. There is no specific threat yet, but the bizarre phone calls are enough to have law enforcement’s attention.

Ben fails to note (or notice) that the circle and arrow are clearly overlay graphics as they match the ones above them EXACTLY, probably because that doesn’t match the story line he’s trying to build – that the mailer was some sort of coded incitement to attack Petersen’s family rather than to expose his unreported lobbyist ties.

If you wallow in the comment thread for those two posts there isn’t anything to surprising about the Petersen campaign’s attempt to turn Tribbett’s work into a story. See the press statement detail and notice how closely it matches the rhetoric from the earlier posts and comments.

Thanks everyone for being here today. I want to let you know, first of all, that my family is fine. We’ve had a stressful couple days, and my wife took the kids to her parents’ house yesterday. Regardless, we are back home and everybody’s fine. I want to thank the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office and the Deputies for making themselves available as needed.

I’ll begin by admitting two facts. One, I’ve been in politics a while and I’m used to being attacked. I’ve probably been the subject of at least thirty (30) negative mail pieces from the Republicans in the past six years and, like most voters, I shrug them off. I also will admit that I often use pictures of my family in my campaign literature. I do it for three reasons: I love them, I’m proud of them and they’re a big part of who I am.

Having said that, what happened this week was unprecedented. On Wednesday afternoon, while I was campaigning, I got a phone call from my wife Sharon. She said that someone had called our house asking angry questions about me and Enron. She did not know what they were talking about. She asked the caller how they got our home number, and they responded it was on my Statement of Economic Interest. Later that afternoon, she saw other calls to the house but did not answer them as she didn’t recognize the caller i.d. At least one unknown person left a message asking a return call. Sharon asked me if I’d released our home number for some reason and I said no.

On Thursday morning, Sharon checked the previous day’s mail and saw we’d received an attack piece from Senator Devolites-Davis about my past association with the national law firm of Bracewell & Patterson, a firm which has represented thousands of corporate clients. The top portion of my Statement of Economic Interest was enclosed. My family’s personal information – including home phone, home address, and the names of our daughters – was circled in red ink on the attack piece and red arrows were drawn pointing to it.

I’ve seen the piece myself and verified those facts. I have also spoken with dozens of friends and neighbors who received it and noted that our family’s information was disclosed in a very public way. It is evident that this was a district-wide mailing.

Words can’t describe the anger I feel. My family does not live in a gated community. We live in on a public street in a subdivision which is easily accessible to strangers. In fact, we are two blocks from the County jail.

My family’s safety is paramount to me. The thought that our personal information would be disclosed to 60,000 strangers and done so in an attack ad meant to incite hatred of me is shocking. The fact that it’s done by someone currently in public office is incredible.

My first instinct was that my opponent’s campaign had made a terrible mistake. But having reviewed the piece and witnessed my opponent’s mail and televised attacks over the past month, I don’t think so. Instead, these particular tactics – particularly the red circling and arrows – are obviously calculated to cause harassment of us personally in the last few days of the campaign. In that respect, it worked.

Again look at the graphic. Those arrows weren’t drawn the are duplicated clip art. I doubt the layout person had any control over them…

I’ll defer to a commenter at Not Larry Sabato,

Do I understand this correctly? Did Chap Petersen call a press conference to whine about receiving (by his own account) two phone calls? Two calls to his number listed in the phone book? Is it correct that he is claiming he had to rush his family to another location and ask for security patrols by the Sheriff because of two phone calls?

Of course the best part is that Petersen’s stooge is a lying scumbag. Last week he crashed and burned in his an attempt to manufacture a Mecca moment with this story, JEANNEMARIE SCREAMS AT HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT. Look at this charge then read down the comments. There was no screaming and the high school student was a Petersen plant. He’s lying his ass off.

And a site called Mason Conservative notes that Ben Tribbett, the leader of Petersen’s charge, didn’t have a problem publishing the name and address of an anonymous blogger he didn’t like. Good, honest person there leading your charge Chap…

I’ve got a call in to the Davis campaign to hear their side of the story.

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