“Straight Shooter” McCain’s Crooked Path
To me, the biggest news of the highly critical New York Times story on John McCain is that a man whose entire campaign for the presidency is based on being “Mr. Straight Shooter” is caught in an obvious, blatant, easy-to-check, and dare-I-say spectacular lie. And it’s not about whether or not he slept with this lobbyist (he and she both deny it, and from what I’ve read it appears that staff were getting nervous that the affair might happen not that it was happening.
Anyway, the New York Times ran a long profile about a number of instances of questionable judgment on John McCain’s part–and McCain’s office issued this rebuttal:
It is a shame that The New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit-and-run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
And that is the lie. McCain was one of the infamous Keating Five. Here’s the Keating Five section of his hometown newspaper the Arizona Republic’s bio of McCain.
In fact it was his brush with ethics censure over Keating that led McCain into campaign finance reform, a place where he’s had a bipartisan leadership role. Yet it seems like
Meanwhile, Kelly McBride and others at the journalism/ethics think tank Poynter Institute took the Times to task both for the timing of the article, and for leading with the allegations about the inappropriately close relationship with this lobbyist, Vicki Iseman (an attractive blonde over 30 years his junior).
Says the Times,
Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)
Says Bob Steele of Poynter:
The New York Times had the obligation to apply rigorous, exacting, substantive standards of reporting, editing and ethics on the McCain story. Times’ editors clearly believed this story was important, given its strong play and length. The Times could have and should have given readers more information about why and how they developed, reported, vetted and edited this story. They should have revealed proactively the story behind the story. They should have better explained the decision to use some unnamed sources, better explained the timing of the publication.
Says I, however,
Actually, to me the timing makes a lot of sense. It’s part of a series by the Times profiling the major presidential candidates still left standing. And it’s early enough that if McCain becomes an untouchable from the fallout, there’s plenty of time for someone else to ride in on a white horse. Though it would be ironic indeed if it turned out to be the smarmy flip-flopper Mitt Romney, who seems to focus on the politics of expedience.