The Big Black Mutilator story of the 2008 presidential campaign has been revealed as a hoax, surprise, surprise.
The young female John McCain volunteer made it all up, according to Pittsburgh police, who have done a good job in getting to the bottom of this.
We can now add this sorry tale to all the other fraudulent stories involving supposed big black malefactors that have littered American history over the years. (Yes, black men - as with white men - do commit serious crimes, but somehow the central casting office of the national imagination tends to call up black men as bogeymen much more often).
Coming at this tense time, this story was incendiary stuff and it became national news in a heartbeat, fueled by right-wing news and Internet outlets hungry to play one more race card while pretending they weren't.
The young woman had said she had been robbed at an ATM and then had her face mutilated by a 6-foot-4 black man offended that she had a McCain bumper sticker on her car.
But Bloomfield at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night is not devoid of people, nor is it particularly dangerous. The story stank from the start and the final confirmation was the backwards B scrawled into her face. You had to believe that her attacker was dyslexic.
Obviously, this young woman has serious mental problems and I shrink from condemning her too much. The same cannot be said for those who seized upon this story with glee for their own shady political purposes.
But please spare the Post-Gazette from criticism for soberly reporting the facts as they were known last night. It had no choice. Can you imagine what would have been said had we ignored or down-played a national story in our own backyard? This was a classic-damned-if-you, damned-if you-don't case.
The damning fairly belongs only to those who desperately wanted to believe the worst.