McCain vs. NYT

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 24, 2008

The John McCain campaign has stepped up its attacks on The New York Times as nothing more than a partisan political rag.

The latest salvo was fired earlier this week when campaign manager Steve Schmidt went after the Times in a conference call with the press.

Let me - let me also add, on the, um, specific question of the New York Times. Um, to speak directly to this point. Um, let me first say, we are first amendment absolutists on this campaign, and that the press, and anybody who wishes to cover this race, from a blogosphere perspective or a media perspective, you know of course is constitutionally protected with regard to writing whatever they wanna, whatever they wanna write. But let's be clear and be honest with each other about something fundamental to this race, which is this: is that whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a, a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day, uh, attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Senator McCain, attacks Governor Palin, um, and excuses Senator Obama. There's no level of public vetting with regard to Senator Obama's record, his background, his past statements. There's no level of outrage directed at his, uh, deceitful ads. Uh, this is an organization that is completely, totally, 150% in the tank for the Democratic candidate which is their perogative to be, but, but let's not be dishonest and, and call it something other than what it is. Um, everything that, that is read in the New York Times, that attacks this campaign, should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective -- that, it is an organization that has made a decision, uh, to cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition to advocate for the defeat of one candidate, in this case John McCain, and to advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.

The McCain campaign released the following bullet points as evidence to support their assessment.

  • Elisabeth Bumiller ran a piece in the New York Times alleging that Senator McCain had not properly vetted Governor Palin, yet she failed to speak to a single member of the campaign as part of her inaccurate reporting. Ms. Bumiller also asserted, on the front page of the paper, that Governor Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party. This allegation was unsourced, unsubstantiated, and entirely untrue, yet Bumiller stood by the story even after the paper was forced to issue a correction, appearing on MSNBC to declare she was "completely confident" in her reporting.
  • In "fact-checking" his vote, New York Times reporter Larry Rohter did not contact our campaign about our ad, did not quote any outside sources, and did not cite the legislation. Instead the "paper of record" recounted the Obama campaign spin nearly verbatim and asserted that spin as fact. And yet, the Obama campaign is lying about the facts of the bill. The fact is that this legislation stated expressly that children in grades kindergarten through 12 were to be taught comprehensive sex education including information about sexually transmitted diseases.
  • On the front page of the New York Times was an attack on Governor Palin's record, this one concluding that as Mayor of Wasilla and then Governor of Alaska she had "pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance." Even the paper's public editor said it "fell short" of backing up those charges.

That does include the allegations of an affair between McCain and a lobbyist that the Times published earlier this year that earned them a rebuke from Yes-man Public Editor Clark Hoyt.

Hilariously, the Obama campaign attempted to the Times' defense, and didn't help the situation.

Bill Burton, the Obama campaign's national press secretary, called Schmidt's accusation laughable, and said the Times had published more than 40 "probing stories ... over the course of the campaign about Barack Obama, his life, his religion, his childhood, his politics, his time in the state Senate, his time in the U.S. Senate, his family, his religion, his friends, his fundraising and all other manner of associations."

Some of the Times' probing stories included such hits as:

1. In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice [New York Times, 1/28/07]
5. Obama, in Brief Investing Foray In '05, Took Same Path as Donors [New York Times, 3/7/07]
6. Obama Says His Investments Presented No Conflicts of Interest [New York Times, 3/8/07]
7. Charisma and a Search for Self In Obama's Hawaii Childhood [New York Times, 3/17/07]
12. In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd. [New York Times, 7/30/07]
13. In 2000, a Streetwise Veteran Schooled a Bold Young Obama. [New York Times, 9/9/07]
34. Obama’s Organizing Years, Guiding Others and Finding Himself [New York Times, 7/7/08]
35. As a Professor, Obama Enthralled Students and Puzzled Faculty [New York Times, 7/30/08]

As you can tell, there are more. However, simply judging by the headlines you'd be hard-pressed to say Obama was ever hard-pressed. If the headlines didn't ensure that you'd be bored out of your gourd reading the articles, you'd have to go deep in the story to find any suggestion of impropriety in anything Obama has done.

Then the Times went and tried to prove McCain wrong with this article: "McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac ."

ne of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

Except that it doesn't.

In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis -- weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual -- since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times' reporting, Mr. Davis has never -- never -- been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with...Paul Begala.

Again, let us be clear: The New York Times -- in the absence of any supporting evidence -- has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain's long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- dating back to 2006. Please see the attached floor statement on this issue by Senator McCain from 2006.

And, buried at the bottom of the article is a fact that might have been the lead of a completely different story in a less partisan media outlet.

Mr. McCain and his advisers have argued that whatever connections Mr. Davis and other McCain campaign officials have had to the mortgage giants, Mr. McCain in the Senate has been an advocate for reforming them. And they have suggested that Mr. Obama is linked to the companies through donations from their employees ties to former officials there, including James Johnson, another former chief executive of Fannie Mae who was the head of Mr. Obama’s vice presidential search team until stepping aside after coming under criticism for getting a mortgage on favorable terms.

Since his first campaign for the Senate in 2004, Senator Obama has received about $126,000 in contributions from employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while Senator McCain, over the last decade, has received about $22,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

McCain got $2,200 a year on average from Freddie/Fannie employees and had advocated reform of the two mortgage giants as early as 2003. Obama, on the other hand, had a former Fannie CEO helping to pick his VP and recieved $42,000 a year on average from Freddie and Fannie employees.

But that's buried at the end of a long story.

That's the bias.

And the Times is so blinkered they don't even recognize it.


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September 2008



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