February 23, 2008

Where Is The Love?

A day after insinuating that John McCain had an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, all of the romance appears to have disappeared from the New York Times. Faster than one can say Roberta Flack, the flak taken by the Gray Lady has apparently resulted in a Soviet-style purge of the sexual allegations from their story. Recall this in paragraph 2 of the original article:

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

Tom Maguire notes that now, Eastasia has never been at war with Oceania -- er, the story was never about sex. In her Friday follow-up, Elisabeth Bumiller cast the story in this manner:

Senator John McCain on Thursday disputed an account in The New York Times that top advisers confronted him during his first presidential run with concerns about his ties to a female lobbyist
.

After leading with the allegations of sexual misconduct on Thursday, the Times waters it down within 24 hours to "concerns" about "ties" to a female lobbyist. A day after spreading unsubstantiated gossip, they've backpedaled to the "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" method of journalism. Readers could fill in the blanks after two paragraphs, though, when Bumiller could report that McCain denied ever having an affair with Iseman.

Today, we see the completion of the Times' efforts to rewrite history. Bumiller again follows up on the story, only this time, we don't get any indication that the Times ever accused McCain of a sexual affair:

Senator John McCain declared the battle over on Friday morning, but by then his lieutenants believed he had already won the war.

Conservative radio talk show hosts who had long reviled Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential candidate from Arizona, had rallied to his defense. Bloggers on the right said that this could be the start of a new relationship. Most telling, Mr. McCain’s campaign announced Friday afternoon that it had just recorded its single-best 24 hours in online fund-raising, although it declined to provide numbers.

Both sides traced the senator’s sudden fortunes to an unusual source, The New York Times, which on Wednesday night published on its Web site an article about Mr. McCain’s close ties to a female lobbyist who did business before the senator’s committee. That evening, two of the senator’s top advisers, Mark Salter and Steve Schmidt, flew to an emergency strategy session in Toledo, Ohio, where Mr. McCain was campaigning.

By Thursday morning, when the article appeared in the print editions of The Times, the McCain campaign had begun an aggressive attack against the newspaper, calling the article a smear campaign worthy of The National Enquirer. It was a symphony to the ears of Mr. McCain’s conservative critics.

First, let's take a moment to applaud Bumiller for some impressive sleight-of-hand here. She managed to make the New York Times the victim of "an aggressive attack" by McCain over a smear -- without explaining what the smear actually was! The Times piece originally led with an accusation of a sexual affair for which they offered exactly zero evidence. Calling it a smear worthy of the National Enquirer isn't an aggressive attack, it's a factual description.

The Times knows it, too -- otherwise they wouldn't have taken such pains to remove that element from their later reporting.

Beyond that, though, the chronology is in error. People read the article and began showering the New York Times in a hailstorm of criticism before anyone heard from the McCain campaign. No one needed his staff to read this article and realize it was an unsubstantiated attack piece. Even the Times' subsidiary, the Boston Globe, refused to run it, as did their client newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, neither of which are likely McCain allies.

The overarching theme of the Times is that they are a newspaper that lies about its subjects, then lies about its own coverage, and then blames their victim for getting caught.

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» "Eastasia Has Never Been At War With Oceania" from Ed Driscoll.com
It's not quite an airbrush alert, as the word still appears in the Times' original attack on McCain, but Ed Morrissey and Tom Maguire are noting that in follow-up articles, Timespersons are no longer using the R-word. Ed writes:A day... [Read More]

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