Friday, March 26, 2010

Cantor spokesman defends bullet claim as legit threat at press conference

The Cantor shooting scandal just keeps getting better. This is from Greg Sargent's blog:

A spokesperson for Eric Cantor is pushing back on criticism that he shouldn’t have referenced the bullet shot through a campaign office window at a presser yesterday about threats on his life, offering a detailed chronology of what happened.


Cantor spokesperson Brad Dayspring, in an interview with me this afternoon, offered a chronology of events. Short version: When Cantor gave his statement, all he knew was that a bullet had been fired into his window, there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, and that he had received other threats on his life.

If this was the correct version of events, then Representative Eric Cantor should have said that a bullet was fired into a window of a building where Cantor has a campaign office. The police are investigating, and more information will come out as a result of the investigation. Leave it at that. Of course, the media would speculate whether a gunman was trying to kill Cantor, but the key here for Cantor was to not jump the gun on outrageous claims, or trying to politicize this event. Unfortunately, Cantor jumped the gun. At the press conference, Cantor claimed, “Just recently, I have been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week and I’ve received threatening emails.”

This was a complete lie, as Richmond Police now state that the bullet was randomly fired into the air. There was no threat against Cantor.

Enter the PR-spin:

But Dayspring says Cantor didn’t know at the time of the presser what the police subsequently revealed. He says that before the presser, Cantor aides called the police to learn what was known.

“We didn’t want to catch them by surprise, we wanted an update on the investigation, and we wanted to be 100 percent accurate,” Dayspring says, adding that the trajectory of the bullet was not discussed: “What was known at the time was that a bullet had been fired through the window and that the investigation was ongoing.”

Again, the problem here is that Cantor attempted to politicize the event. When Cantor started blaming the Democrats on "fanning the flames" of violence and death threats, he really lost any sense of credibility here. There were plenty of legitimate reports of Democratic lawmakers being threatened by right-wing extremists, possibly influenced by right-wing hate and fear-mongering. I guess Eric Cantor had to come out screaming, "Look at me--I'm being terrorized by liberal extremists influenced by left-wing hate and fear-mongering!"

What is especially ironic is that this story is certainly sensational. Someone took a shot at a building where the House Minority Whip has an office. Police are going to take that as a serious threat, running a vigorous investigation to determine if this was a targeted threat against Cantor, or a random act of violence. All Eric Cantor had to say at the press conference was "Here is what we know so far," and leave it. The media was going to sensationalize the story anyway, with Cantor receiving big press coverage. But when Cantor decided to politicize the event, before knowing all the events of this shooting. And now this random act of violence is showing Eric Cantor to be a complete fool, interested in hyping events for his own political gain.


Sheryl said...

I just heard there has been an arrest of someone targeting Cantor. Is this true?

Eric A Hopp said...

Hello Sheryl: Thank you for your comment. There has been an arrest of a man named Norman Leboon, who threatened Eric Cantor on YouTube. That is not to say that Leboon was the guy who fired the shot at Cantor's office window--I still think that was a random shot, and police will probably never find the guy who fired the gun. As for Leboon, he was a stupid idiot who didn't think that posting a death threat to any congressman, or president, on YouTube would result in a courtesy visit by the Secret Service? This guy was stupid, and he'll probably go away to Club Fed.

Norman Leboon ARRESTED, Threatened To Kill Rep. Eric Cantor (VIDEO)

Norman Leboon, the man now charged with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was arrested over the weekend, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia Monday.

Leboon made the threat in a YouTube video in which he leveled a variety of offensive and incendiary statements at Cantor and his family.

"My Congressman Eric Cantor, and you and your cupcake evil wife," Leboon said in the video, according to an affidavit. "Remember Eric...our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you're a Lucifer."

If convicted, Leboon faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

It appears that Leboon has also been involved in a lawsuit against Verizon regarding their alleged complicity in surveillance of US citizens and has been an active uploader of inflammatory and often anti-semitic videos.