Here’s The Story
It started with Drudge. He was the one who broke the story that there was a story back on December 20, with this post.
Just weeks away from a possible surprise victory in the primaries, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz has been waging a ferocious behind the scenes battle with the NEW YORK TIMES, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned, and has hired DC power lawyer Bob Bennett to mount a bold defense against charges of giving special treatment to a lobbyist!
The drama involves a woman lobbyist who may have helped to write key telecom legislation…The woman in question has retained counsel and strongly denies receiving any special treatment from McCain…
(Jim) Rutenberg had hoped to break the story before the Christmas holiday, sources reveal, but editor (Bill) Keller expressed serious reservations about journalism ethics and issuing a damaging story so close to an election.
If they were so concerned about it being so close to an election in December, why not now, when it’s even closer and McCain is the nominee-apparent?
The Drudge report was followed on December 21 by a story in the Washington Post with the added news that McCain had hired Washington attorney Bob Bennett (the Democratic brother of Bill):
Bennett said he sent prepared answers yesterday to written questions submitted by New York Times reporters who have spent weeks investigating questions about whether the senator did favors for a Washington lobbyist or her clients.
The story behind the story is that The New Republic has been working on a story about the New York Times not publishing the McCain story. Here’s how The New Republic responded:
But we can say this: TNR correspondent Gabe Sherman is working on a piece about the Times’ foot-dragging on the McCain story, and the back-and-forth within the paper about whether to publish it. Gabe’s story will be online tomorrow.
Gabe’s story, The Long Run-Up is here.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller gives this explanation for the timing of the story:
“On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.
“‘Ready’ means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.
“This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it.”
But Mark Salter, senior McCain campaign aide, probably has it right when he tells Time:
“They did this because the The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there,” Salter said, “the Judy Miller-type power struggles — they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made the New York Times newsroom look bad.”
Conservatives hate the New York Times even more than they hate McCain, and so this could even help him, as Charles Dunn of Regent University said to WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Dunn neatly summed it up (via fishbowlny)
”If The New York Times does a follow-up story and names the two sources, then McCain will have a problem … If The New York Times doesn’t name the two anonymous sources, this story will have a short shelf life.”
And now the story is, is there a story?Click here for reuse options!
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