The Jewish Press, an Orthodox newspaper based in Brooklyn, has an editorial in this week’s issue blasting the The New York Times over its recent article asserting that John McCain’s aides once feared that he was having an affair with a lobbyist:
The recent front-page smear of Sen. John McCain by The New York Times is really “same old, same old.” The Jewish Press has often reported and editorialized on the Times’s pattern of skewing its reporting against Israel. That the erstwhile “paper of record” exhibits the same bias when it comes to U.S. politics is likewise not exactly a revelation. …
The New York Times, on its front page, sends the message of a dalliance by the married frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination based solely on comments of unidentified persons who did not even confirm the existence of an untoward personal relationship. This is truly extraordinary by any standard.
What is also critical to note is that the Times had tried for four months to amass concrete evidence of an inappropriate personal relationship, and executive editor Bill Keller held up publication of the story because he thought the corroboration was too thin.
Yet in the end the Times ran with the story anyway, despite absence of any hard proof for the paper’s seamier allegations.
Had it not been for Sen. McCain’s facility in dealing with this assault, he might well have become damaged goods. Indeed, the hit piece seems to have redounded to Sen. McCain’s benefit. Almost immediately, his most vocal critics in the Republican Party’s conservative base rallied to his defense against the liberal Times. And contributions to his campaign increased immediately and dramatically.
The article also provided a golden opportunity for Sen. McCain to demonstrate what he brings to the table, and he took full advantage. The steady demeanor he brought to bear during the press conference called to rebut the Times’s allegations was nothing short of presidential. He did not yell, scream or pout. He did not call names. He did not become argumentative. He did not overstate. He was dignified. He said he was disappointed in The New York Times. He matter-of-factly denied the article’s ugly claims. The image of Sen. McCain as president reacting to a national crisis in a sober, deliberative and rational fashion was unavoidable.