Sunday, February 24, 2008

The New York Times trash their John McCain “sex scandal” story

John McCainThe New York Times' John McCain "sex scandal" story has been severely trashed - by the New York Times.

The newspaper created outrage with an article Thursday suggesting that advisers feared that Presidential hopeful McCain may have been having an affair with a lobbyist, Vicki Iseman.

But the Times never proved an affair - and McCain, his wife and Iseman have all rubbished the story, ironically creating a swell of support for the Republican.

Now the Times own Public Editor, Clark Hoyte wrote about the article and its aftermath - and joined the many who have attacked America's most respected paper. "If a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide," Hoyt insisted. "The stakes are just too big."

He also trashed the paper's executive editor Bill Keller for trying to justify the article by saying it was never about an "affair". "A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did," he insisted.

Hoyt, whose job is to be the "readers' representative", agreed with criticism that the article was too flimsy for what it hinted at. "The article was notable for what it did not say," Hoyt wrote. "It did not say what convinced the advisers that there was a romance.

"It did not make clear what McCain was admitting when he acknowledged behaving inappropriately - an affair or just an association with a lobbyist that could look bad.

"And it did not say whether Weaver, the only on-the-record source, believed there was a romance.

"The Times did not offer independent proof.

"And if you cannot provide readers with some independent evidence, I think it is wrong to report the suppositions or concerns of anonymous aides about whether the boss is getting into the wrong bed."

He continued: "It was not for want of trying. Four highly respected reporters in the Washington bureau worked for months on the story and were pressed repeatedly to get sources on the record and to find documentary evidence like e-mail. "If McCain had been having an affair with a lobbyist seeking his help on public policy issues, and The Times had proved it, it would have been a story of unquestionable importance."

Instead, he said, there was an all-too clear "absence of a smoking gun".

By Lee Brown, Feb 24 2008 © Copyright 2008 - Showbiz Spy

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