Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Public Editor Weighs in on McCain Bombshell

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'NYT' Public Editor Weighs in on McCain Bombshell

Article excerpt

Editors and reporters at The New York Times have been replying online to readers' queries about its bombshell Sen. John McCain/lobbyist story since yesterday but many have wondered: What would the paper's public editor have to say? Now we know.

Clark Hoyt's column for the Sunday paper has been put up at www.nytimes.com. After reviewing the story and Executive Editor Bill Keller's claim that the story really wasn't about "sex," Hoyt concludes as follows.*

A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide.

The stakes are just too big. As the flamboyant Edwin Edwards of Louisiana once said, "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

The pity of it is that, without the sex, The Times was on to a good story. McCain, who was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee in 1991 for exercising "poor judgment" by intervening with federal regulators on behalf of a corrupt savings and loan executive, recast himself as a crusader against special interests and the corrupting influence of money in politics. …

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