Irresponsible journalism or fair game?

“I’m disappointed in The New York Times piece. It’s not true,” he (John McCain) said at a Toledo, Ohio, news conference, with his wife, Cindy, by his side. Watch McCain respond to the paper’s allegations » (Source: CNN)

February 22, 2008
How The Times Helped McCain

The New York Times may have done the impossible for the John McCain campaign and for Republicans in general. As predicted yesterday when their strange and threadbare allegations hit print, the attack united conservatives behind McCain. It also may have been an act of seppuku for the Times, as its claim objectivity and credibility have been discredited. The Los Angeles Times surveys the damage:

Conservative commentators, including some who previously chastised McCain for not hewing closely to their principles, leaped to the candidate’s defense.

Radio personality Laura Ingraham, like other critics, noted that the newspaper had been researching the story for several months and accused the Times of delaying publication to do maximum damage.

“You wait until it’s pretty much beyond a doubt that he’s going to be the Republican nominee,” Ingraham said on her morning radio program, “and then you let it drop — drop some acid in the pool, contaminate the whole pool. That’s what the New York Times thinks.”

The most popular host in talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, described the story as standard fare for the paper he accuses of coddling the left.

“You’re surprised that Page Six-type gossip is on the front page of the New York Times?” said Limbaugh in reference to the gossip column of the tabloid New York Post. Limbaugh, who previously has ripped McCain as a fake conservative, said: “Where have you been? How in the world can anybody be surprised?”

Bear in mind that both radio hosts had pressed hard before Super Tuesday to keep McCain from winning the nomination. They have no particular love for the Arizona Senator, and had kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism over his record. If the New York Times had actually produced a substantiated scandal involving McCain, they may have been the first to proclaim I told you so! from the tops of their transmitting stations.

Instead, the Times ran a piece of gossipy nonsense that doesn’t even have the courage to allege what it only implies. Two self-described “disillusioned” former staffers who won’t go on the record alleged — what? — that McCain had an affair? No. That McCain did favors for a romantic paramour? No. The Times reported that these two staffers somehow got past Mark Salter and John Weaver to stage a confrontation with McCain over their concerns that McCain might have possibly started to get close to thinking about a romance with Vicki Iseman.

For this, the Times offers no corroboration. They report on a confrontation between John Weaver and Vicki Iseman, but neglect to report that Weaver explained to them that he had heard Iseman brag about her connections to McCain and the Commerce Committee, not about any alleged affair. That didn’t make it into the Times’ report. Neither did the fact that McCain often voted against the interests of Iseman’s clients, and that votes in favor of them matched McCain’s often stated policy positions held long before Iseman became a lobbyist.

Here is the full story and here is more coverage about this issue.

For the record, I do not like politics and I have never met Senator John McCain. I am neither a registered Republican nor Democrat.

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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