Hate-filled claims of irresponsible media and biased reporting fill the anti-media language of the everyday citizen. And more often than not, these claims are melodramatic, emotionally based and politically irrelevant.
But in the case of the recent New York Times article attacking the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the presidency, Sen. John McCain, we question the motives and choices of one of America’s most respected news organizations.
The Feb. 21 exclusive Times article, “For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk” accused the Senator of having an extra-marital romantic relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman and said Iseman received special treatment from McCain’s office because of that relationship.
Although the Times has since denied the article was alleging an affair between McCain and Iseman and only reporting on the speculations of McCain staffers, the proof is in the print.
“A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet,” the Times wrote. “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.”
The Times’ largest evidence supporting its non-claim of an affair are letters McCain wrote to the Federal Communications Commission and bills he introduced after Iseman asked him to – sadly a common practice in our nation’s capital.
These claims did not justify the accusation, and though the Times can try to sleaze its way out by claiming it never officially accused McCain of an affair, blame does not leave with the phrase, “unnamed source.”
Both parties denied any affair, and Lewinsky-scandal nostalgia is starting to kick in. But the real issue is the unethical decision Times executive editor Bill Keller made.
Rather than continuing unbiased coverage of a heated presidential campaign, Keller decided to print a personal attack on the Republican nominee. Built on speculation, anonymous sources and loose strings, the Times’ credibility took a huge hit on Feb. 21.
According to the New Republic, Keller and the five reporters assigned to the McCain story battled back and forth on whether they “nailed” the story yet or not. More than a week after it hit the presses, common sense shows they did not.