Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa
A mysterious and politically-incorrect series of viral videos posted on YouTube are lighting up speculation online about their origin. A report published on July 13th attributed them to an employee of of Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Potholm (SRCP), the same Republican firm that produced the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004.
The videos, posted on the YouTube account "abrad2345", mock several Republican candidates, at times making racist attacks against Rudy Giuliani, making fun of his bout with prostate cancer, suggesting that Fred Thompson's wife is transgender, and Mitt Romney is gay. SRCP now apparently works for John McCain.
"In 2004, Mr. McCain said the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth advertisement asserting that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had not properly earned his medals from the Vietnam War was 'dishonest and dishonorable,'" the New York Times reported in February. "Nonetheless, he has hired the firm that made the spots, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, which worked on his 2000 campaign, to work for him again this year."
Plans for syndication of the story alleging an SRCP connection to the videos on The BRAD BLOG Monday were delayed at the last minute due to legal concerns after SRCP's lawyers claimed the story was false and asked that it be purged from The Daily Background blog, where it had been originally published.
Watch the first of the "abrad" videos (video at right), which appear to be endorsing Giuliani in a mocking way. The video even resorts to racism for its not-so-subtle attacks on Giuliani. More of the videos can be found here.
"We strongly urge you to cease distribution of all content furthering from these false assertions," a July 16th letter from SRCP's law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP read. "The business reputation and professionalism of SRCP is being challenged in a way that causes irreparable damage unless you act immediately."
Oh, the irony. (A complete copy of the letter can be found at the bottom of this post...)
SRCP claims that a MySpace account, which appears to belong to their Production Manager Amy Bradford, is a "hoax." If it is a hoax, it would be a very elaborate one: the account was registered in 2006 under the name "A. Bradford." Whoever is behind the MySpace account started distributing the videos mere hours after the first of the videos had been posted on the "abrad" YouTube account on July 3rd. The MySpace user subsequently claimed to have found the videos on the Wonkette blog and the right-wing The Corner. A review of both blogs however found that the videos were not first mentioned until days later.
The mysterious MySpace user, who describes herself as "Coulter-esque," listed her employer as SRCP, and her location as Alexandria, Virginia, where Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Potholm is based. The user, known as "Public Persuasion" (a similar slogan is used on SRCP's website) also lists her job as related to video advertising and marketing.
ABC News' Investigative Unit picked up the story on Wednesday and revealed a key new detail. The same day that the original report (the result of a tip from a reader and the product of extensive research) alleging an SRCP connection with the ads was published, the "A. Bradford" MySpace user posted on a friend's profile "...here's the thing. Issues with the 'campaign' really heated up at work today; big time. I might have royally screwed something up. Though I could probably use a stiff drink, I don't think I should go out in public much in the next few weeks."
The night before, a message had been sent to Bradford's account on the popular social networking site Facebook asking for information about Bradford's involvement with the "abrad" videos.
"This is a complete fabrication and a hoax," SRCP told ABC. "No one at SRCP was involved in the creation or production of these ads or the personal content created and posted on MySpace which is attributed to one of our employees." Both Giuliani's campaign and McCain's campaign have denied knowledge of the ads.
Below is a copy of the July 16th letter sent by SRCP's law firm to The Daily Background. The BRAD BLOG believes that Dickstein Shapiro have forfeited any claims of confidentiality regarding the letter due to the fact that they themselves forwarded the letter to various third parties, according to both ABC News and a Republican strategist who received a copy of the letter earlier in the week.