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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

A Despicable Victim Hoax

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The story of the gay Republican who says he was beaten turns out to be a total hoax. Apologies won't cover this one; he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Kyle Wood's lies were elaborate, repeated, and especially malicious. The collateral damage will be considerable.

Of course, Kyle Wood wasn't the first bogus victim to come our way. As the Daily Caller.(which reported his allegations last week) notes:

Cases of false victims reporting hate crimes against themselves are not as unusual as they may sound. Last week, police concluded that an alleged attack by the Ku Klux Klan on Sharmeka Moffitt, an African-American woman, was faked.

In 2007, a noose was found hanging outside the office of black Columbia University Teachers College professor Madonna Constantine, who was later investigated for hanging the noose herself to divert attention from plagiarism charges that eventually led to her termination.

And during the 2008 presidential campaign, Ashley Todd, a volunteer for Republican candidate Sen. John McCain in Pennsylvania, claimed to have been robbed by a black man who, seeing a McCain bumper sticker on her car, carved a reverse “B” into her face for “Barack Obama.” Todd was later found to have invented the incident.

In possibly the most infamous modern case of false-crime reporting, in 1987, black 15-year-old Tawana Brawley reported that she had been raped by six white men, including a police officer, and smeared with feces and racial insults. With Rev. Al Sharpton at the lead, the case ratcheted up racial tension across the country before a grand jury eventually found that Brawley had faked the attack.

 

 But Wood's deception was particularly despicable, including apparently fabricating text messages designed to defame the partner of congressional candidate Mark Pocan.

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Lots of media reported Wood's original fake story, including a lengthy article published on jsonline. I also tweeted  links, although, on October 25, I wrote: " Sykes@SykesCharlie Good idea to withhold judgment on this one: A note on the alleged gay GOP campaign staffer assault - JSOnline "

Then came Media Trackers which claimed it had hard evidence, in the form of a lengthy transcript of graphic and obscene threats against  Woods, which they attributed to Pocan's gay partner. If true -- and if MT could verify the information -- the story was a potential game changer. But...

On yesterday's show, I expressed skepticism about the story and asked Brian Sikma how he knew this was not a hoax -- specifically noting the pattern we've seen elsewhere -- and how he had "verified" the now-discredited text messages. Sikma cited multiple sources who had "verified" the texts.

But despite his "sources," obviously the text messages had not been verified, because they were fake.

The group issued this statement last night:

Media Trackers regrets that we were repeatedly lied to and misled. We regret that our readers were subject to the dishonest claims of a dishonest individual. Despite the best efforts to verify the accuracy and integrity of certain claims, a cover-up sometimes works. Those who create and maintain such fabrications deserve to be ruthlessly exposed for they hold the power to destroy the credibility of innocent people.

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Unfortunately, that's not really good enough.

The ultimate responsibility for the lies and deception rests with Kyle Wood; but it was unacceptably sloppy to run with the unsubstantiated story.

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