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The Story With “The Story”

(alternate headline: “Bill Keller’s day is gonna suck“)

Yeah, so have you heard about this New York Times McCain story?

Initial assessments and punditry do not support the New York Times’ decision to run the piece.

McCain says it’s not true. Bob Bennett says the NYTimes has “lowered its standards” and calls the piece “a hit job.” Pat Buchanan called it a “weasley headline” on “Morning Joe.” Time’s Richard Stengel says he never would have run it. Tim Russert said that the more you read it, the softer the article seems. Rich Lowry says “The Times doesn’t have the goods—at least from what’s in the story–and shouldn’t have run it.” Mike Allen called it a “famously bland headline.” Joe Scarborough says the NYT has “a lot of questions to answer.” El Rushbo chimes in against the “drive-by media.” Ana Marie Cox (who likes paper dolls) gets a reaction from the McCain camp. Sam Stein asks, “Why Did The NYT Hold McCain-Lobbyist Story?” Marc Cooper says, “John McCain Owes The New York Times a Thank You Card.” Drudge had a field day with it. The McCain people clearly don’t like it:

    “It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign,” said communications director Jill Hazelbaker, in a prepared statement sent about an hour after the Times posted their story online.

TNR (which was rumored to have forced the NYT’s hand on the story) thinks that “a lot of stuff was edited out.” The mag is working on its own story:

    The McCain campaign is apparently blaming TNR for forcing the Times’ hand on this story. We can’t yet confirm that. 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.

Tucker’s having lunch with Frank Foer today so perhaps he can get the inside scoop.

Leading the charge against the piece (based on both today’s “Today” show and “Morning Joe”) is NBC/MNSBC. And, wait: Aren’t they also partners with the NYT?

Anne Applebaum says: “Thanks to lack of evidence, the article reads not like an expose but like an elaborate and extended piece of insinuation.

Clark Hoyt! Where are you?!?

And in case you were wondering…the reporters: Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn Thompson, David Kilpatrick and Stephen Labaton.

TV coverage notes from TVNewser

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