I want to be sure we’re not too dismissive about this whole debacle with the New York Times piece  that showed up on the web yesterday and presumably in the print edition today. Rather, let’s just look at how it compares to some things in the past.
First off, again, I’m not a big fan of John McCain. You will, however, need substantially better evidence than an indirect version of Dan Rather’s George W. Bush National Guard Letters story, which as you recall was discovered to be a fabrication.
The Dan Rather fiasco is the first major point to consider. Dan had what appeared to be incontrovertible evidence of manipulation by the Bush family to keep George W. out of trouble, and the whole affair was aired on September 8, 2004, during what CBS News described later  as “a tight and hotly contested presidential race between Mr. Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry”. The Times article smacks of the same kind of cheap shot at a candidate, except Dan had what looked like the real deal, and the Times, no wait, let’s get the names on the table: Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn W. Thompson, David D. Kirkpatrick and Stephen Labaton; these folks have incontrovertible evidence of rumor and innuendo, not to mention assumptions. We’ve got enough of that to fill a library on Hillary and Bill. Dan got fired (for all intents and purposes) along with his cohorts, but only because he tried to pass off a fraud as the real deal. These folks at the Times have the luxury of having couched everything in reports of speculation, suspicion and concern.
Which leads me to the second major point to consider. Being dismissive about this will definitely open the door to accusations that our treatment of Bill Clinton is different than our treatment of John McCain. Of course, I’m speaking of the Monica Lewinsky thing from the prior millennium. Some significant differences between the two should be observed despite any level of dismissal: 1) The Lewinsky thing happened in the White House, 2) Real evidence was presented, 3) Monica admitted what happened, 4) In the end, the President admitted what happened and most importantly, 5) The President of the United States first lied to the American People about it – baldfaced – before admitting it when the evidence became overwhelming. And in the end was considered by Liberals to be one the greatest presidents of the century. Makes me sick.
Again, I don’t want to be dismissive. If there is anything that is substantive and worth assessing for real, it should probably be brought before the Party before the official nomination. But I don’t think there will be a need to do that.
What I do think there is a need for here is an apology by the New York Times. Specifically from Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn W. Thompson, David D. Kirkpatrick and Stephen Labaton. And then from Bill Keller. Enough people have already shown that this piece was a political hatchet job and a low point for the Times. The way they’ve followed up on the story  sounds like they believe they hold Woodward and Bernstein’s mantle. But they don’t (funny that Tuesday night the show Jericho had a reference to Bob and Carl as “two guys with typewriters”… now we have four folks with too many Google hits). Most telling is this paragraph, which I’m guessing was already prepped before the initial story ran:
Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers directed strong criticism at The Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on several issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication.
Captain Ed  rightly refers to this as “unbelievable hysteria”. The Times would have you think McCain’s team has been spending weeks preparing for this story so they can pounce on the Times and tear them to shreds, as if they’ve had time to work on it. I get the idea that the Times planned it out to make this kind of strategy appear to come from McCain, but it seems to me that the Times are the ones that are ready to wage war with the man they endorsed for the Republican nomination. Now I wonder if the endorsement was for the candidate they had the most garbage available to throw at.
One more thing. I really don’t care if this does anything to “rally conservatives to McCain’s side”. This topic does not create common ground for Conservatives and McCain. We shouldn’t need common ground to face lies with the truth. We still have a lot of real politics to deal with.
The whole universe is blogging on this, but I got some good info from The New Republic , Blue Crab Boulevard , Ed Morrissey , Sister Toldjah , Dread Pundit Bluto  (great commentary on Bill Keller’s hypocrisy), McGehee Zone , and of course, BitsBlog . Memeorandum is always helping me get to this stuff, hats off to everyone hitting on this item!