The internets were abuzz immediately when this strange shot of McCain during his RNC acceptance speech gave more ammo during closeups for another Colbert Report 'McCain Green Screen Challenge' to videophiles with a knack for chroma key effects, but what caught Josh Marshall's eye was the building being used as the backdrop with the green green lawn that was providing the fodder. Initial speculation that it was one of McCain's innumerable mansions quickly faded when his readers confirmed that it was actually Walter Reed Middle School in North Holllywood, CA (pictured on right, above), but why?
A local Bay Area reporter for NBC picked up on it and called the school to find out. The receptionist said, "We were all wondering that, What was that about? We don't know," but TPM is reporting that they do plan to release a statement. [see update below]
An odd fact, uncovered by TPM's Greg Sargent, is that the school actually served as the backdrop for Matt Santos' announcement of his presidential candidacy on The West Wing. Not really sure what to make of that, but it is quite an odd coincidence in any case.
At the time of this post's writing it seems to have been an amateurish mistake by someone in the McCain campaign who was tasked with getting an image of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Your guess is as good as mine on why the GOP would ever want to dredge up that image?). The incompetent screwup theory is perhaps given more credence by the fact that now there seems to be some finger-pointing going on inside the McCain camp as to who's to blame, but I'm still holding out for a more solid confirmation, because at this point Occam's Razor hasn't yet ruled out Comedy Central's managing to plant a mole inside the campaign. I'm sure there will be updates to this story as it continues to unfold.
Update: Donna Tobin, the principal of school has weighed in, and she is not a happy camper about it:
"... Permission to use the front of our school for the Republican National Convention was not given by our school nor is the use of our school's picture an endorsement of any political party or view."
One other interesting development: The California Democratic Party is actually holding a press conference in front of the school within minutes ..(more)
The McCain campaign is refusing to comment.