My own reaction to the New York Times story on John McCain and allegations of ethics problems and intimations of playing footsie with a lady lobbyist (I feel free to use tabloid language here as that’s what the story is, at heart) was decidedly negative. For one thing, they tried to mask a straightforward tabloid front about a senator’s possible extramarital romance as a serious investigation about ethics and lobbying–McCain’s bread-and-butter, and something that, if proved, could derail his not-so-Straight Talk Express. But they got nuthin’ solid on the supposed flying sugar shacks (corporate jets). Second, the unproved and largely irrelevant (McCain is twice-married and never set himself up as Mr. Family Values, I believe) romance angle obscured the very relevant and very troubling allegations about his “prudential judgments,” as we might say, on conflicts of interest.
What are your thoughts?
Here is Howard Kutz’s first take at the WaPo.
UPDATE: Straight from The New Republic, a dissection of the story behind the story (subscription needed, but this gives a sense of the drama):
TNR.com has just posted an article tracking the behind-the-scenes drama at the ‘New York Times’ over the paper’s controversial story about John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman. The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn’t. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable.
Read the full text here: http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=8b7675e4-36de-43f5-afdd-2a2cd2b96a24
John McCain is also on the magazine’s cover this week, in an article by TRB columnist Jonathan Chait that assesses the cold calculations of the Straight Talker.
Read the full text here: http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=6f4b1ece-5c7e-4a41-9a64-279c54510f69