February 21, 2008

First We Smear You, Then Any Response Is War

The story of the New York Times hit piece on John McCain keeps getting stranger and stranger. First the paper puts out a story that uses two disgruntled former "associates" of McCain to allege that they wondered whether he had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist. Not that he actually had an inappropriate relationship, but merely that they wondered about it. They also allege that they staged an intervention with McCain about it, one that somehow bypassed the top staffers on his campaign, and for this the newspaper offers no proof and no corroboration whatsoever.

John McCain then holds a very polite and rather subdued press conference to deny all of the Times' unsubstantiated gossip. How does the New York Times report this? With unbelievable hysteria:

Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers leveled harsh criticism at The New York Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on a number of issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication.

“It was something that you would see in the National Enquirer, not in The New York Times,” said Steve Schmidt, a former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney who is now a top campaign adviser to Mr. McCain.

Oh,please! First, the Times published a scurrilous and poorly-sourced story that even gossip rags would have rejected, and they have the nerve to accuse McCain of declaring war? Has Bill Keller lost his mind?

This has to be one of the worst days in New York Times history, and that's saying a hell of a lot. Not only do they lack any editorial wisdom, now they run shrieking at the first sign of pushback. This self-pitying emission from the Times' tailpipe would be worthy of The Onion.

Hey, Bill. John McCain knows how to wage war. When he decides to do that, you'll know it. (via Power Line)

UPDATE: Tom Maguire takes a trip in the Wayback Machine, and discovers that most of this story is recycled from discredited reports in 2000.

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