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Settlement of the Iseman Case Requires a Whole Lot of Ink

20mccain-190a.jpgSo, in an interesting twist to the Times settling the lawsuit with lobbyist Vicki Iseman the paper agreed to print a lengthy statement from Iseman’s lawyers, as well as issuing a joint statement, their own response, and a note to readers. Phew. First the lawyers:

This case is now ended, on the basis of an agreed settlement that includes a Note to Readers, a Joint Statement, the publication of this Commentary, as well as the accompanying response on behalf of The New York Times. As the two lawyers who represented Ms. Iseman in this matter, we offer these thoughts in the spirit of prompting meaningful debate concerning the vital importance of drawing the proper balance between the need for free and open public disclosure and the privacy rights of individuals.

Afterwards the Times issued this response (as a side note perhaps an easier way to deal with all this back and forthing would have been to launch a Tumblr!):

But the first point to make is, the case did not proceed. It was settled without money changing hands, and without The Times backing away from the story. In the joint statement we are releasing today and in a “Note to Readers,” we reiterate what we have said since the story was published: that article did not allege an affair or unethical behavior on Ms. Iseman’s part. We stand by our coverage, and we are proud of it.

However, one imagines that all of this might have been avoided had the Times felt inclined to publish this very short note a year ago.

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.

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