February 22, 2008


N.Y. Times Gets Flak From All Sides on Explosive Story (Howard Kurtz, 2/22/08, Washington Post)

Minutes after the Times posted the piece on its Web site Wednesday night, conservative commentators -- who had recently been ripping McCain's White House candidacy -- rallied to his side against one of their perennial targets.

Why, Bay Buchanan asked on CNN, didn't the Times run the piece in December, before primary voters went to the polls? Rush Limbaugh yesterday said the story -- which said McCain aides nearly a decade ago feared that the senator was having a romantic relationship with Iseman -- is "gossip" that the Times put out "just prior to McCain wrapping up the nomination." Fox's Sean Hannity called the article a "disgrace."

Media analysts are divided over the bombshell piece, which relied heavily on unnamed sources. If the Times couldn't make the case that McCain and Iseman had an intimate relationship -- and both have denied it -- was it fair to raise the issue? If a crucial allegation was that McCain aides, in 1999 and 2000, told the senator they were worried that the relationship appeared inappropriate and warned Iseman to stay away from their boss, is that worthy of front-page display? If the relevance rests on McCain having written letters to federal regulators nearly a decade ago that would have benefited Iseman's telecommunications clients, is that less newsworthy because it was reported at the time?

"This is a story that rests on the suspicions, unproven, of unnamed sources," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism. "That creates a problem for the New York Times. We're not in an age of trust-me journalism. . . . What you have is a story that some staffers were worried about something. Their worries could well be unfounded, and we don't know that."

McCain turns tables on Times (Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen, Feb 21, 2008, Politico)
Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign claimed vindication Thursday night after a sophisticated 24-hour counterattack turned a potentially lethal story in The New York Times into a conservative call to arms.

The piece about McCain’s friendly relations with a telecommunications lobbyist—long-discussed in political circles and planned for weeks by McCain operatives—was the first test of his ability to confront a public-relations crisis since becoming the GOP’s presumptive nominee.

But the reaction may have said as much about the mindset of the conservative movement on the brink of the general election as it did about McCain and his team.

“Even if they want to quibble within our own tribe, they’ll circle the wagons when we’re attacked by the Times,” said McCain campaign senior adviser Charlie Black.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 22, 2008 8:53 AM

maybe that evil super genius Karl Rove planted the story to get the right wingers to fall in behind McCain....

Posted by: Foos at February 22, 2008 6:04 PM

With the WaPo and other papers quietly slamming the Times, it seems this story is going to go down the memory hole pretty fast. But McCain can continue to refer to it for the next 8 months.

He could even use it to joke about Obama - "Hey, I was lobbied in my day. Did anyone ever try to lobby my opponent? Oh, NARAL did? The ACLU did? MoveOn.org did? George Soros did? The teachers' unions did? Ralph Neas did? Gee, those guys never bothered me."

Posted by: ratbert at February 22, 2008 6:58 PM