Don’t jump to conclusions.
The Hayride reports that a source who visited Bautsch at the hospital the day after the attack says they were told the couple was attacked for wearing Palin buttons:
Two people at the Brennan’s event have now confirmed that the protest had largely broken up by the time it ended, but we also understand from someone who visited Allee Bautsch in the hospital Saturday morning that she and Brown were followed and attacked expressly because they had Palin pins on (she heard one of the attackers say “Let’s get them, they have Palin pins on” – so the attack WAS politically motivated as its victims understood it. It was not a mugging, it was not an argument gone wrong and it was not a bar fight.
My first thought was of that infamous hoax just before the 2008 election when a campaign worker in Pittsburgh claimed an Obama supporter had carved a “B” in her cheek. My second thought was of Air America breathlessly reporting a few years ago that Randi Rhodes had been attacked while walking her dog, which turned out to be a case of Rhodes, um, falling down outside a pub. What happened to Bautsch and her guy is no hoax — one of them has a broken leg, the other had a concussion and fractures to the nose and jaw — but whether there was politics involved or whether it was an old-fashioned New Orleans brawl remains to be seen. Jindal’s spokesman said last night there’s no evidence that any lefty protesters were involved and just a few minutes ago he e-mailed MM to report that the detail about the Palin buttons is simply wrong: Neither Bautsch nor her boyfriend were wearing one. (The Hayride, which was pushing the political angle heavily yesterday and has now updated its post to reflect the new info, sounds more circumspect today.) Mediaite has picked up the story and the Times-Picayune already has at least one item up about it, so I assume this mystery will be solved sooner rather than later. Updates to come. Exit question: If it turns out there was a political element to the beating, can we blame the NYT op-ed page for fostering a “climate of hate” against conservatives? (Exit answer: Yes!)
Update (Ed): It sounds as if this is less a hoax than just a failure to get facts verified, which is still a big problem. One has to remember that New Orleans is still a pretty tough city with a high rate of violent crime among American cities, and the law-enforcement resources were already being taxed by the French Quarter Festival last weekend. It doesn’t take politics to beget violence.
On Saturday night (the night after the assault on Ms. Bautsch), another blogger and I walked back to the Holiday Inn Superdome where we both were staying from Morton’s Restaurant. At about 9:20 pm or so (maybe a bit earlier), we came up on a massive roadblock and saw two people down on the street, one in a gurney, and police and ambulances all over the place. It looked like a bad traffic accident at first blush to us. I found out only after getting back to the hospital that it was a shooting that had wounded seven people, mostly passers-by. Had the other blogger and myself come through 15 minutes earlier, we could have been hit. If that had happened and two conservative bloggers got shot in New Orleans during the SRLC conference, many people could have jumped to the conclusion that it would have been political, when in fact the shooting resulted from a personal conflict from earlier in the year.
We’ve all jumped to conclusions, and even blogged on that basis on occasion. Allahpundit’s correct in keeping an open mind as to motive in this case, too — but he’s waiting for the corroboration and the evidence, which is absolutely the right thing to do.