While the hub-bub has been all about Senator McCain’s alleged affair with a lobbyist eight years ago, the New York Times article is really something much more obnoxious. The supposed “news” was really a chance for the New York Times to go back over the senator’s entire Washington career in a “hit piece” type fashion.
The evidence would suggest the New York Times doesn’t have any real proof of any allegations. After briefly teasing the affair story in the first few paragraphs, it’s another 1637 words in the story before the New York Times returns the supposed scandal. To put that in perspective, my columns in the Waukesha Freeman typically run 700 words total (often 700 on the nose). In the intervening 1637 words, the New York Times re-hashes the Keating Five scandal, flights he took a long, long time ago on private jets, and other issues that have long since been dealt with.
Then the New York Times can only find one person to go on the record about one meeting and he can’t even confirm the gossip, only that he asked the lobbyist to stay away from the campaign to avoid the appearance of impropriety. And even the lobbyist herself disputes that account. The only other sources in this tabloid tale are two unnamed former staffers who are described by the New York Times as “disillusioned” McCain supporters.
The New York Times tries at the end to mask the story as one about potential conflicts of interest, but even then their reporters admit that the senator has a mixed record of helping the lobbyist’s clients - sometimes acting in their interest, sometimes not – depending on the senator’s principles.
So what we have is an old story about an alleged affair with no evidence being used as an excuse to dredge up every old story of possible ethics questions about the senator’s career and smear him.
As I pointed out at the time of Le’Affaire Edwards, these stories can backlash, and this one has already. If Senator McCain needed something to spark conservatives to rally around him, what could be better than the New York Times doing a hit piece? When Rush Limbaugh and Bay Buchanan leap to the defense, you know the rallying has begun.
Update! Speaking of the one person on the record:
Here's Weaver's statement:So much for any corroboration of the alleged affair. This story just keeps getting worse for the New York Times.
"The New York Times asked for a formal interview and I said no and asked for written questions. The Times knew of my meeting with Ms. Iseman, from sources they didn't identify to me, and asked me about that meeting. I did not inform Senator McCain that I asked for a meeting with Ms. Iseman.
Her comments, which had gotten back to some of us, that she had strong ties to the Commerce Committee and his staff were wrong and harmful and I so informed her and asked her to stop with these comments and to not be involved in the campaign. Nothing more and nothing less.