NY Times Reporter: Rubio Traffic Ticket Story ‘Why People Don't Run for President’

As part of the Fox News Sunday political panel, New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg attempted to defend her paper’s hit piece on Marco Rubio but instead seemed to confirm the backlash against the Times: “When you run for president, every aspect of your life, and even your spouse's life, is open to public scrutiny....So this is kind of the game, right? This is what happens, this is why people don't run for president.”

That prompted laughter from the other panelists and host Chris Wallace to ask: “Wait a minute, you're saying because of a story like this in The New York Times is why people don't run?” Stolberg tried to walk back her comments: “No, no, no. I’m saying because every aspect of your life, whatever it is, a parking ticket or a financial misdeed, becomes open to scrutiny.”

In response, columnist George Will quipped: “We shall await the Times report on his overdue library books. And meanwhile, I think he can stand the comparison saying he has overdue library books or four traffic violations and compare that to Mrs. Clinton siphoning up millions of dollars in clear conflict of interest and very possible conflict of law.”

The exchange began with Wallace asking Will: “George, to use the Times motto, is this all the news that’s fit to print?”

In part, Will explained:

The Times wrote the story in a coy way, it said, “a search of two counties records has revealed,” leaving the viewer – the reader free to surmise that The New York Times had diligently searched this. It didn't. This was done by a group called American Bridge, which I guess is a Democratic group, which then passed it on, I guess, to The New York Times, no?  

Stolberg interjected: “I'm going to rebut that....I don’t speak for the Times, but you probably saw that our bureau chief, our Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan, said yesterday that in fact this information was developed independently, it was not given to the newspaper by American Bridge.”

Apparently it was just a coincidence that the Times and American Bridge both put out the same attack on Rubio at the exact same time.

Here is a transcript of the June 7 exchange:

9:36 AM ET

(...)

CHRIS WALLACE: Meanwhile, there was a curious story in The New York Times this week, on Saturday, about Marco Rubio and his wife, that they had 17 driving violations since 1997. What made it especially curious was that the Senator – of those 17, Mrs. Rubio had 13 – the Senator had only four of them since 1997. So that's about one every four years or something. And none of them were especially serious. Which raises the question, George, to use the Times motto, is this all the news that’s fit to print?

GEORGE WILL: Well, before addressing that deep philosophical question, I should say – although it's of no particular relevance to this and although I have no dog in the Republican fight – my wife, who’s a veteran political operative and God knows has a strong mind of her own, is working for Scott Walker.

That said, is this news fit to print? Four traffic violations in eighteen years, that is with metronomic regularity once every four and a half years he gets a traffic citation. The Times wrote the story in a coy way, it said, “a search of two counties records has revealed,” leaving the viewer – the reader free to surmise that The New York Times had diligently searched this. It didn't. This was done by a group called American Bridge, which I guess is a Democratic group, which then passed it on, I guess, to The New York Times, no?  

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG [THE NEW YORK TIMES]: I'm going to rebut that. So obviously I don't speak for the New York-

WALLACE: This is like a debate. You get 30 seconds for rebuttal Ms. Stolberg.

STOLBERG: Right. I don’t speak for the Times, but you probably saw that our bureau chief, our Washington bureau chief Carolyn Ryan, said yesterday that in fact this information was developed independently, it was not given to the newspaper by American Bridge-

WALLACE: Can I ask you a question, though? I'll even take all of that on faith. Why is it news that he had four violations in eighteen years?

STOLBERG: Here’s what I would say to that. You know, this is a big Republican field and a lot of candidates like Senator Rubio haven't run on the national stage before. But when you run for president, every aspect of your life, and even your spouse's life, is open to public scrutiny. And certainly there have been reports about Columba Bush's jewelry buying habits. We’ve written reams about Bill Clinton. When President Obama was a candidate in 2011 – or 2007 rather – it was reported that he failed to pay his parking tickets for 17 years until two weeks before he launched his presidential nomination. So this is kind of the game, right? This is what happens, this is why people don't run for president.
[LAUGHTER]

WALLACE: That is – wait a minute, you're saying because of a story like this in The New York Times is why people don't run?

STOLBERG: No, no, no. I’m saying because every aspect of your life, whatever it is, a parking ticket or a financial misdeed, becomes open to scrutiny. And these are publicly available records.

WILL: We shall await the Times report on his overdue library books. And meanwhile, I think he can stand the comparison saying he has overdue library books or four traffic violations and compare that to Mrs. Clinton siphoning up millions of dollars in clear conflict of interest and very possible conflict of law.

STOLBERG: Which The New York Times has reported on.

WALLACE: That's true, they have report on that.

STOLBERG: Very, very aggressively, I might add.

WALLACE: Okay, alright. Let’s not be aggressive.

(...)

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