MSNBC’s new content-sharing relationship with The New York Times meant the network was first to report the news of Sen. John McCain‘s ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman who, early in McCain’s 2000 run for the White House, “had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet,” The Times reports. “Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself,” the story claims.
Keith Olbermann broke into the Hardball re-air at 7:45pmET to report the news, about the same time the story went on NYTimes.com. Olbermann stayed with the story for a half hour repeating it through the remainder of Countdown. Dan Abrams picked up coverage at 9pmET.
CNN reported the news during the last 10 minutes of Lou Dobbs Tonight, and again during Election Center at 8pmET.
Larry King also talked about it with his guest Jon Stewart. Not having read the story, Stewart said, “I’m not suggesting that public figures don’t have to be held to certain standards…but this has an awfully, tired and dusty feel to it, in terms of the way political reporting has been going.”
Hannity & Colmes had the most fortuitous booking of the night: McCain’s lawyer Bob Bennett. Bennett had been invited on to talk about his new book, but wound up spending most of the time talking about The New York Times story. Bennett joked, “are you gonna have me back to talk about my book?”
The Times story is a 2,800-word piece with four reporters and two researchers attached to it. On his blog, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder writes, “the interest will be intense because the story was so heavily anticipated. And the wink-wink-nod-nod assertion that McCain allegedly acknowledged unspecified ‘improprieties’ to some aides is bound to be the part of this that kicks for a while.”
The McCain campaign released a statement, which in part reads, “It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign.”