February 21, 2008

"What's most remarkable about the article is that it appeared in the paper at all."

The New Republic reports on the NYT McCain story:
[T]he new information it reveals focuses on the private matters of the candidate, and relies entirely on the anecdotal evidence of McCain's former staffers to justify the piece--both personal and anecdotal elements unusual in the Gray Lady. The story is filled with awkward journalistic moves--the piece contains a collection of decade-old stories of McCain and Iseman appearing at functions together and concerns voiced by McCain's aides that the Senator shouldn't be seen in public with Iseman - and departs from the Times usual authoritative voice. At one point, the piece suggestively states: "In 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, 'Why is she always around?'" In the absence of concrete, printable proof that McCain and Iseman were an item, the piece delicately steps around purported romance and instead reports on the debate within the McCain campaign about the alleged affair.

What happened? 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.

63 comments:

Trooper York said...

Ben Bradlee: Bernstein, are you sure on this story?
Carl Bernstein: Absolutely.
Ben Bradlee: Woodward?
Carl Bernstein: I'm sure.
Ben Bradlee: I'm not. It still seems thin.
Howard Simons: Get another source.
Ben Bradlee: Sources. We don't need no stinkin sources.
Carl Bernstein: Yeah who gives a shit? Let's just print it anyway. Maybe we can get on Olberman tonight. Or Chris Matthews. Hey I might even get a rim job from Greta Van Sustren.
(All the Presidents Men, 1976)

madawaskan said...

Late in the day on February 19, Baquet sent a final draft of the Times piece to Keller and Times managing editor Jill Abramson in New York. After a series of discussions, the three editors decided to publish the investigation. "We published the story when it was ready which is what we always do," Baquet told TNR this morning. He added: "Nothing forced our hand. Nothing pushed us to move faster other than our own natural desire that we wanted to get a story in the paper that met all of our standards."

What standard? The chance to write Keating five times over?

gotta love this wording to-

Nothing pushed us...

Are they insinuating that they got a whole lot of nothing?

Trooper York said...

Jack Kelly: Extry, extry, read all about it! Ellis Island in flames!
David Jacobs: Hey, where's that story?
Jack Kelly: Page nine. Thousands Flee in Panic!
David Jacobs: "Trash Fire Next To Immigration Building Terrifies Seagulls"?
Jack Kelly: Terrified Flight from Inferno!
(Newsies, 1992)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Should this story turn out to be another of those "fake but accurate" stories that the media likes to print because it fits their agenda can Ms Iseman sue for defamation and libel?

I'm no fan of McCain but I seriously doubt this story. I realize that as a public figure he has no recourse, but how about the other people who are not public figures?

AJ Lynch said...

From the story "the reporters who believed they had nailed it".

Ann- picture yourself having to participate in those editorial story discussions. First you would shred their arguments, next their groupthink worldview and last you'd be tempted to actually kill them. Just to keep your sanity.

Bob said...

What struck me when I read this story was how odd it is that a couple of years ago the NYT got its shorts in a knot over how Bush administration allegedly smeared Valarie Plame. But here its okay to smear McCain and Iseman based solely on gossip. Think this would be the case if it was Obama?

madawaskan said...

"the reporters who believed they had nailed it."

Because- they believed he had.

Finally those cynics believe in something.

McCain is the New Obama!

Middle Class Guy said...

The only standards the NYT has are printed in a dusty manual someplace. The various media outlets have turned the McCain scandal into the NYT scandal.

Hmmm, I wonder if Weider bought the NYT and folded it into the National Enquirer?

cokaygne said...

Wittingly or not, they did McCain a favor. Now people like Rush and Pat Buchanan are loudly in his corner getting the base all fired up. Running against Billary would have been a cakewalk for McCain, but Obama is another matter. This is a gift. Now McCain can run against the NYT. The fact that the story contains no news except innuendoes from unidentified disgruntled former employees makes it hard for the rest of the media to take it up. I really thought this was going to be a Democratic year. I also thought 2004 was going to be a Democratic year. Once again the media are making themselves the story and making the Republican candidate look like a victim. Once again the Democrats are nominating an empty suit. At least Obama doesn't have Kerry's record.

TMink said...

Have the people at the New Republic not been reading The Times? I don't read the rag anymore, but it is just the sort of thing I expect them to do.

Trey

BJK said...

How long until Ms. Iseman has reporters looking into "her side" of the non-affair.


I'm more concerned about the inevitable follow-up stories than the hit piece itself.

garage mahal said...

I demand Cindy McCain divorce him because she was enabling a serial adulterer. And it's a huge blow to feminism. Because she HAD to have known. Right Ann.

George said...

The NYT finally got around a few weeks ago to running a piece on Obama's college drug use.

Verdict: Just a dabbler!

“If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag. We’d smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus,” recounted Mr. Thummalapally, an Obama fund-raiser. “He was not even close to being a party animal.”

(Now there's an unbiased source! Another fabulous character witness in the article is Obama's half-sister.)

But the article does remind us that Sen. Obama has admitted that he was once in the meat-freezer of a Hawaii delicatessen watching someone pull out "the needle and the tubing" and shoot up.

The meat freezer of a deli?

I've still yet to see any news organization report on his high school drug use. Jeez, get a copy of his senior yearbook. Make a few phone calls. Visit some delis maybe.

We're unlikely to see any reporting on his church or its minister. NPR did a piece on his and Sen. Clinton's religious backgrounds a few weekends ago. Verdict: It's okay for his church to be "Afro-centric" because it serves a historically oppressed population.

There was also an extremely nasty item making the rounds on the Internet a few days ago about Obama. Highly toxic. Unmentionable! But if there's a 0.5% chance of it being true, well, yikes.

One would think a story like that would be checked out by many, many news organizations...not to mention the Clinton campaign.

Trooper York said...

I heard that when Obama was a young kid in Hawaii he hung out with a rough crowd. There was a slutty girl named Darla and some guy who went on to murder his wife outside an Italian restaurant in Hollywood but who beat the rap. And there was some perverted dude named Spanky. They even had a dog with a black eye. What's up with that? I demand an investigation.
O'tay?

Eli Blake said...

I'm not sure that he'd want to make Cindy mad.

Her father was Jim Hensley, who was Kemper Marley's right hand man. Kemper Marley joined the mafia in the 1930's when he was working for Gus Greenbaum, and later became the chairman of the board of Valley National Bank (who bankrolled Bugsy Siegel when be built the Flamingo in Las Vegas). Marley also knew how to deal with those pesky investigative reporters (google: Don Bolles.) The family even got McCain (after he married Cindy) to go to the funeral of Joe Bonanno (a.k.a. Joey Bananas), a close family friend.

I mean, I'm sure Cindy still has her family contacts, and if John McCain were to cross Cindy then it might be bad news for his health, you know what I mean?

Ba-da-bing.

former law student said...

Bob, exposing the identity of a CIA agent in time of war is not "a smear". I would have thought it was treason, but I'm no expert.

Kirby Olson said...

Geez, even for the NYT that was an amazingly vapid story.

They should change their logo.

"Any noose that fits."

former law student said...

george: "lonelygirl15" proved you could assume any persona you wanted to have on youtube. Accuser larry's claimed address was tracked down to be a board-and-care home in Duluth, Minnesota, indicating either that he lies, or that he lacks some of the skills and abilities that enable the rest of us to live on our own. But if you believe that after the excitement of his godson's boot camp graduation died down, larry rented a limo to explore the Street of Dreams in Chicago, where he met and captivated Obama sitting all by himself in a bar, I have some real estate at 1600 East Lake Street to sell you in Chicago.

AJ Lynch said...

FLS:

It is a stretch to include Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Pencil-pusher is more accurate IMHO.

And yes I know there are several credible witnesses for either side.

hdhouse said...

Get a grip. The NYTimes had no choice but to publish now as it was going to come out that they were sitting on the story after Mickey C and his Bennett made the calls.

hey as the GOP used to say about Kerry, if you got nothing to hide you shouldn't care....right? right? am i right or am i right?

Simon said...

garage mahal said...
"I demand Cindy McCain divorce him because she was enabling a serial adulterer. And it's a huge blow to feminism. Because she HAD to have known. Right Ann[?]"

Hard to count the misrepresentations crammed into that one, starting with the obvious: where's it been shown that McCain was having an affair with this staffer? Even the NYT don't go so far as to say that, they just insinuate it and hope readers take the bait. Which you evidently did, hook, line, and sinker.

joe said...

We have been hearing, for months, the Democrats talking about the "right wing attack machine." Is there any doubt that the NY Times is the left wing's equivalent?

Simon said...

hdhouse said...
"Get a grip. The NYTimes had no choice but to publish now...."

Perhaps. But the decision does suggest that they don't take "all the news that's fit to print" as a limitation on what sees its way to the printer, since this is neither fit to print nor even, really, news.

dbp said...

One would expect the MSM to dig-up whatever dirt there is on Sen. McCain. If this is all they can come up with; he is bullet-proof.

dbp

George said...

Former law--

How believable is it that when Sen. Obama was a college student he found himself in the chilled meat locker..of a Hawaiian delicatessen...watching a man wrap rubber tubing around his arm...and inject himself with heroin?

Yet the NYT reports that Sen. Obama himself said that he witnessed all of the above.

It is a strange world, and history is replete with bizarre revelations...I learned just a few weeks ago that George Washington fired his second Secretary of State Edmund Randolph on the grounds that he thought the man had committed treason...Unbelievable...

Middle Class Guy said...

hdhouse said...
....right? right? am i right or am i right?


Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're right. OK?

They would have had to publish eventually, as the reporters were also getting their shorts and knickers in a twist. Really poor taste to back your boss, the editor into a corner.

I think what has everyone angry is the tone, context, and insinuation without their customary named sources and documentation. Now the story is the story, instead of Mr. McCain.

Intentionally or not, it smacks of a smear job. With the NYT in so much trouble, one would think they would be more careful.

Middle Class Guy said...

former law student said...
Bob, exposing the identity of a CIA agent in time of war is not "a smear". I would have thought it was treason, but I'm no expert.



One, there is no such thing as a CIA Agent. Two, she was never exposed or outted. She was a regular on the social and party circuit in DC along with her husband. Everyone knew who she worked for and what she did.

She was never in espionage, never worked undercover, never was involved in operations, and was never in any danger. She was a chair and desk bound administrator and manager.

Shawn Levasseur said...

In a similar vein:

This past weekend I had an odd experience listening to WBZ (Boston) radio news. There was a 'news' item about how McCain is supposedly hot tempered and listed a few incidents where he got angry with a few people.

There was no recent event that triggered this news report as all the incidents are in the past. Positioned just before a more relevant report about the race for the Democratic ticket, it made me wonder how and why this was considered 'news'?

Especially strange considering, in my experience, WBZ nomally doesn't do such blatantly slanted stories.

I guess the "Straight Talk Express" is no longer the darling of the media.

garage mahal said...

Simon
McCain was the one denying an affair this morning.

rhhardin said...

The campaign did not report the flight with Ms. Iseman. Mr. McCain's advisers say he was not required to disclose the flight, but ethics lawyers dispute that.

Oooo! I didn't notice ethics lawyers.

Whenever you're required to attend a business ethics seminar, raise your hand and ask if it's ever okay to tell a lie.

You're paying for them ; make them work for it.

Eli Blake said...

dbp:

If this is all they can come up with; he is bullet-proof.

No, there is more.

I alluded to it before, but there are mob ties that go a lot deeper than McCain attending "Joey Bananas" funeral.

Eli Blake said...

In fact, I may be interviewed on the topic on a Phoenix radio station in the next few days (I've been looking into it for a while, and wrote a lot of it into this post:

Married to the mob

but expect to hear some Soprano-like stuff involving McCain sometime before the election.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

but expect to hear some Soprano-like stuff involving McCain sometime before the election.

Cool, maybe McCain can get a hit out on Chris Matthews whose screechy voice is about on a par with Hillary for chalk on the blackboard factor. My husband had the new on this morning early and do you know how irritating it is to be woken up to the sound of Matthews voice? I've been grumpy all day.

John Stodder said...

Eli, your story clearly takes after the New York Times' journalistic ethic, which is to assemble a bunch of unrelated facts (in your case, a history lesson on the tragic Don Bolles case), find a few threads to connect this history to McCain, and then proceed to conclude that "McCain has Mafia ties."

I hope he sues you.

If you click on Eli's story, what you learn is that McCain is married to the daughter of a wealthy influential Arizona man with possible mob ties in his past. Most of Eli's post describes that in as much detail as he can squeeze in, but all of it precedes by many years McCain's arrival on the political scene. By the time McCain came across Cindy's family, they were wealthy people, and let's give Eli the benefit of the doubt and agree that behind this fortune were some unsavory associations. There is no proof McCain knew about or participated in these unsavory activities. But when McCain decided to run for office, his wealthy in-laws helped bankroll his first campaign. Apparently, this act of generosity didn't prompt McCain to ask his father in law what he knew about Don Bolles' murder.

That's it.

There will most certainly not be "more" on McCain's mob ties. There will probably be "less." The gist of Eli's story could be reduced to "There are some bad people on the fringes of Arizona's business community. Arizona's business community has supported McCain's campaigns. Therefore, McCain is mobbed up."

Verso said...

I would bet that 95% of those howling about this "hit job" haven't even read it. We all know one thing: No matter what the article said or how well it was sourced, there is a segment of the population that would never believe it. Still: This is a good opportunity for that segment to burn some calories in a righteous frenzy.

Trooper York said...

John Stodder, how dare you impugn Eli's integrity? The mob ties to John McCain run very deep. As you know, one of his closest friends and associates in the Senate is Ted Kennedy with whom he has crafted many pieces of legislation while stabbing conservative Republicans in the back. Now as you know, Ted Kennedy’s father Joseph was a partner with Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano in the importing of Seagram’s whiskey into the United States during the 1930’s. There are reports that Mr. Kennedy was part of organized crime to the extent that they helped his other son John in the West Virginia primary. You might have heard of him. So Mr. McCains mob ties are deep when we factor in the “Kennedy connection.”

Verso said...

It is a stretch to include Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Pencil-pusher is more accurate IMHO.

Because you would know. And the federal prosecutor, federal judges, and the CIA itself would not.

Take note, learners: This is how reality is processed by the conservative mind.

Middle Class Guy said...

Verso said...
It is a stretch to include Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Pencil-pusher is more accurate IMHO.

Because you would know. And the federal prosecutor, federal judges, and the CIA itself would not.

Take note, learners: This is how reality is processed by the conservative mind.



It is true Verso. Go back over the stories. She was never an operative. She has been an inside person her whole career.

dbp said...

JFK and McCain: They are so alike.

A son and a son-in-law of organized crime figures, who had made their fortune and then gone legit. Also, both Navy men. Both (maybe, one down one to go) will be elected President.

Trooper York said...

If fact Ted Kenndey's nickname for John McCain is "Big Pussy."

Of course Senator McCains loves to call Teddy "Wet Pussy."

What a bunch of jokers.

dbp said...

There are differences too, to be sure: One radiated youth and health (though he was actually quite sickly) the other palpably old. And of course, one a Democrat, the other a Republican.

John Stodder said...

I suspect the NY Times story will have zero legs. There is no "complainant" here. Nobody who got screwed in the legislative process. No wronged woman. No staffers who'll go on the record with their great disappointment with a man they formerly admired. All you have against McCain are the Times' reporters, and they aren't talking.

Scandals like these need to have a loose thread who will talk. I'm sure the Times tried super-hard to find one.

It reminds me of a time when a former friend was denounced anonymously as "unimpressive" in the Los Angeles Business Journal. Giving a source anonymity has to be done for a better reason than "I don't want anyone to know I'm slagging him."

Chip Ahoy said...

NYT. The darlings still have a great crossword.

Today's theme was about mixed nuts. The circled letters are anagrams. Wonderful puzzle, great theme, great fill, very nice ratio between black/white squares, nice perfect symmetry.

There. Said something nice.

dbp said...

Verso said...
It is a stretch to include Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Pencil-pusher is more accurate IMHO.

Because you would know. And the federal prosecutor, federal judges, and the CIA itself would not.

Take note, learners: This is how reality is processed by the conservative mind.

I don't recall, maybe you could help: Who exactly is currently in prison for violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982? If it is so clear-cut that this law was violated; my questions are: Who violated this law and why were they not indicted?

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

I think McCain folks wanted this so he could take press away from Obama. Its 20 yrs old for god sake and no big deal. but if Obama wins the delegate count and hill wins the super del's, it will be like running into a brick wall for the Dems

MadisonMan said...

It turns out Ms. Plame did her undergrad at the same school I did, and she was recently in the monthly (Award-Winning!) alumnus magazine. Ms. Plame says she was undercover. I think she would know, better than anyone here.

Saul said...

The only reason this is good is because it took away attention from idiotic charge that Michelle Obama is not patriotic.

Even if true, McCain should get a a pass, as though he was under 70, anyone 70 or older should be congratulated for such accomplishments, and his wife was probably grateful at the time.

This story will be dead within a week.

Trooper York said...

Just like a woman. She gets some new friends and that's the last you hear from her. Busy instapunditing around and no posts since early, early this morning. Phooey.

Trooper York said...

Notice how Maxine and Titus are also missing in action today? Hmmmmmm. Does that lend credence to the theory that they are Althouse sock puppets? Or pup-tits. Or something.

madawaskan said...

MadisonMan-


Well if she was in the magazine she had to be under the cover...

Gawd!

And who knew now McCain is the new Camelot!

dbp said...

It turns out Ms. Plame did her undergrad at the same school I did, and she was recently in the monthly (Award-Winning!) alumnus magazine. Ms. Plame says she was undercover. I think she would know, better than anyone here.

She can say whatever she wants, but if she doesn't meet the specific criteria of the law ( Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982) then she isn't covered. The lack of any indictment by the special council should tell us all we need to know.

dbp said...

I should point out that I do think Plame was, at some point in her career a cover agent. The law does not cover you for life, just because you were at some point covert.

Here is the relevent part of the law:

(4) The term "covert agent" means—


(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or


Part of the problem for any prosecution was that Plame had not served outside of the US for more than 5 years prior to her "outing".

There are other problems: There is little evidence that the "outers" fit the rest of the definitions:

They didn't know she was covert (not the same as classified that she is with the CIA, btw--if it is debatable that she is covert it is rather hard to prove anybody "knew" she was.), didn't know affirmative measures were being taken (little evidence that any were being taken)etc.

SEC. 601. [50 U.S.C. 421] (a) Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
(b) Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identity of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(c) Whoever, in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, discloses any information that identifies an individual as a covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such individual and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such individual’s classified intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(d) A term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be consecutive to any other sentence of imprisonment.

Middle Class Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Listen if you are going to hi-jack a thread, at least make it interesting. Please.

Drop in something about McCain and Plame under the covers in a covert love affair or something. Jeeez.

Kirby Olson said...

Why was the story released today? Was it to get the pressure off Michelle?

caplight said...

Hmmmmmmmmmm.

How did Karl Rove engineer this? Brilliant. Simply brilliant!

dbp said...

"Listen if you are going to hi-jack a thread, at least make it interesting. Please.

Drop in something about McCain and Plame under the covers in a covert love affair or something. Jeeez."

Hey, four other commenters brought up Plame before I got on the bandwagon!

I do apologise for being didactic though; we can't all be the life of the party.

I promise to juice-up and fully innuendoize further comments--to the extent I am able.

dbp

Middle Class Guy said...

Titus flew to California to see Maxines Boosoms and show to her his hog.

Middle Class Guy said...

I apologize for the udder nonsense.

Trooper York said...

Thanks dbp, just remember, when in doubt, just say, pull my finger.

That's how McCain got in this jam in the first place.

Wait...what...it wasn't his finger
....nevermind. Carry on.

MadisonMan said...

The lack of any indictment by the special council should tell us all we need to know.

It should tell us how difficult that (poorly written, maybe) law is to break. If you are knowingly outing a covert agent, can the agent be covert? If you know someone is an agent, but you do not know they are covert, and you out them, you haven't broken the law.

That's my understanding of it, at least.

AJ Lynch said...

Madison Man:

Wouldn't be the first time an alumna exagerrated her work experience to her classmates.

Plus, based on your reasoning, if I should believe her because she said it, should I also believe Scooter because he claims he did not lie?

Put that big brain of yours back in gear.

PatCA said...

If this is the worst they have on him--romantic, not sexual, speculation nine years old--McCain should feel pretty good tonight. After Bill Clinton's peccadillos, this seems like pretty thin gruel.