With each passing moment, it appears the New York Times laid a big egg with its hit piece on John McCain.
Not only did the Times bury a follow-up piece in Friday's paper as reported by my colleague Clay Waters, but also the Seattle Post-Intelligencer chose not to run the article due to "serious flaws."
PI's managing editor David McCumber blogged at length about this decision Friday (emphasis added throughout, h/t NB reader David Gliewe):
To me, the story had serious flaws. It did not convincingly make the case that McCain either had an affair with a lobbyist, or was improperly influenced by her. It used a raft of unnamed sources to assert that members of McCain's campaign staff -- not this campaign but his campaign eight years ago -- were concerned about the amount of time McCain was spending with the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. They were worried about the appearance of a close bond between the two of them.
A very good editor I happen to work for, P-I Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby, said today that the story read like a candidate profile to him, not an investigative story, and I think that's true. A candidate profile based on a lot of old anecdotes.
Admitting that [Times editor Bill] Keller was in a better position to vet the sourcing and facts than I am as, basically, a reader, let's assume that every source is solid and every fact attributed in the story to an anonymous source is true. You're still dealing with a possible appearance of impropriety, eight years ago, that is certainly unproven and probably unprovable.
Where is the solid evidence of this lobbyist improperly influencing (or bedding) McCain? I didn't see it in the half-dozen times I read the story. In paragraphs fifty-eight through sixty-one of the sixty-five-paragraph story, the Times points out two matters in which McCain took actions favorable to the lobbyist's clients -- that were also clearly consistent with his previously stated positions.
That's pretty thin beer.
And the "it must be so because it's in The New York Times" argument will never hold much water after Judith Miller and Ahmed Chalabi got done perforating it.
Ouch. That's gotta smart!
But hold on to your seats, for he wasn't finished:
This story seems to me not to pass the smell test. It makes the innuendo of impropriety, even corruption, without backing it up. I was taught that before you run something in the newspaper that could ruin somebody's reputation, you'd better have your facts very straight indeed.
"Nailed" would be one way to describe that.
Wow. I couldn't have said it any better.