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February 21, 2008
Its the Sex, Stupid (Updated)
The New York Times story alleging "impropriety" on the part of John McCain with a female lobbyist has several different angles to it but basically, it comes down to a story about sexual infidelity - a perfect start to the Times effort to smear McCain.
That's what the Times is peddling. And it is why they decided to run the story despite the fact that the legitimate issues they raise about McCain doing the bidding of this lobbyist is so thin that it's damn near invisible.
Ed Morrissey nails it:
The New York Times launches its long-awaited smear of John McCain today, and the most impressive aspect of the smear is just how baseless it is. They basically emulate Page Six at the Post, but add in a rehash of a well-known scandal from twenty years ago to pad it out and make it look more impressive. In the end, they present absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing -- only innuendo denied by all of the principals:The scandal Ed refers to - the Keating Five dust up - was carefully taken out of the closet by the Times, dusted off, and presented as news - or as Ed says, filler for a story that had no legs and precious little in the way of facts. Nearly 500 words on a scandal that by almost universal agreement on Capitol Hill, John McCain has managed to overcome and re-establish his reputation for honesty and integrity.
But tying the Keating mess into a story about a female lobbyist who the Times breathlessly reports showed up with McCain in all sorts of places - including (gasp!) his office - only underscores what this story is really based on; it's the sex, of course.
The Times reports that McCain promised not to take a direct flight from Washington to Phoenix because he sponsored a bill that added that route for air carriers. But in an apparent back tracking on that pledge, McCain took flights home on corporate jets - including one owned by his supposed ladyfriend's clients. And just to titillate us further, the Times snidely informs us that the female lobbyist accompanied McCain on one of those flights home.
I don't know about you but that seems a little thin to hang an infidelity charge on a putative nominee for president of the Republican party.
And who are the Times sources for this story of romantic intrigue and Washington back scratching? Two former staffers, self described as "disgruntled," gave the Times the background of the story which involved nervous staffers running around confronting McCain over the "affair" while pointing out the impropriety of writing letters on behalf of the woman's clients.
It should be pointed out that there are 100 senators currently serving and if there is one of those senators who hasn't written a letter to get some dead weight bureaucrat off his duff and do his job in approving or disapproving a company's request so that the business doesn't go bankrupt waiting for the agency to do its job I would be shocked.
One other aspect of this story that will be coming out over the next news cycle is that the Times may have been forced into publishing the story before they wanted to. Word is that The New Republic was doing a piece on the Times holding the story and the fierce office politics involved:
The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times' hand on this story. We can't yet confirm that. But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times' foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it.There are reports that one of the reporters on the story, Marilyn Thompson, was so disgusted with the fact that the Times wouldn't run the story that she quit and went back to the Washington Post (who also features a story on the rumored relationship with the lobbyist).
On Feb. 12, the Washington Post announced that Thompson would be leaving the Times and returning to the Post, her employer for fourteen years. Rumors had circulated internally that Thompson had been working on the McCain piece and was dissatisfied it had not yet run, according to two Times staffers.A question might be asked just why the Times was holding the story. Were they waiting for maximum negative impact on McCain? Perhaps the day after clinching the nomination?
I wouldn't put anything past that crew.
This story will not go away. As with all Washington scandals, there will probably be a drip, drip, drip of new revelations (or information that is passed off as new revelations) to keep the story churning.
One thing is for sure; the next time you hear a Democrat talking about the vaunted "Republican attack machine" throw a copy of the New York Times in their face.
This is pretty incredible.
Evidently, prior to publication of today's story, McCain's lawyer supplied detailed rebuttals to many of the Times charges. And by detailed I mean dates, witnesses, and documents. The Corner has the rebuttal.
It is criminal that the Times didn't include any of this information in the story. They violated the most sacred rule of good journalism; giving the target of the investigation a chance to have their story told alongside the charges.
What this proves is that the Times isn't interested in balance. They are interested in smearing McCain.