Friday, February 20, 2009

Iseman Suit Ourcome: NY Times Says It “Did Not Intend”

Yesterday the NY Times reported:

A lobbyist’s lawsuit against The New York Times over the newspaper’s account of her ties to Senator John McCain has been settled, both sides announced on Thursday.

The suit, filed by Vicki L. Iseman, the Washington lobbyist, was settled without payment and The Times did not retract the article. In an unusual agreement, however, The Times is letting Ms. Iseman’s lawyers give their views on the suit on the paper’s Web site.

Their opinion is accompanied by a joint statement from both sides and a note to readers, which is also appearing in Friday's edition of the newspaper.

The suit stemmed from an article published on Feb. 21, 2008, when Mr. McCain had become the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee.

The lengthy article, which started on the front page, said that despite his public posture as an ethics reformer, the senator had at times been blind to his own potential conflicts of interest.

The article dwelled in particular on his friendship with Ms. Iseman, a lobbyist for telecommunications companies that had business before the commerce committee, which Mr. McCain once headed.

The article said that in 1999, during a previous presidential run, some top McCain advisers were “convinced the relationship had become romantic,” warned Ms. Iseman to steer clear of the senator, and confronted Mr. McCain about the matter.

Mr. McCain, who is married, interrupted his campaign the day the article was published to state publicly that there had been no affair, and to deny that anyone had confronted him about Ms. Iseman. She, too, said there had been no affair.

The Times article drew harsh criticism, including from the paper’s own public editor, even as the paper argued that it was about public ethics, not sex. . . .

The entire Times story's here.


My Comments:

Both sides in the suit are claiming their position was vindicated and certainly each side has some cause to say that.

But the Times, as you’ll see in its readers note which below, says it did not mean to conclude what everyone who read the story concluded the Times story meant for them to conclude.

Is the Times being honest when it says didn’t mean for it readers to conclude Iseman and McCain had engaged in a sexual affair or that she and McCain had breached the public trust?

If so, then the Times must be totally blind to the gross bias that infects so much of its political reporting.

A Note to Readers

An article published on February 21, 2008, about Senator John McCain and his record as an ethics reformer who was at times blind to potential conflicts of interest included references to Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist. The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.