February 21, 2008
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Leah Yoon, NPR

   

BILL KELLER, NEW YORK TIMES EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SAYS TODAY’S FRONT PAGE ARTICLE ON MCCAIN WAS “NOT A GOTCHA STORY” ON NPR NEWS’ ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FEBRUARY 21

AUDIO OF THE INTERVIEW AND A WEB-EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT WILL BE AVAILABLE AT NPR.ORG


February 21, 2008; New York, D.C. - In an interview airing today with NPR News’ Media Correspondent David Folkenflik for a story on All Things Considered, Bill Keller, the executive editor at the New York Times, says the front page article that ran this morning on Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was “not a gotcha story about some kind of quid pro quo.” In explaining the reason to run the story given the controversial nature of those allegations made by the four New York Times reporters who investigated a possible romantic relationship between Senator McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Keller says “We don’t know if there was a quid or a quo in this case. What we do know is that people very close to him, who watched him day after day, were worried enough by his behavior that they felt that he was endangering his career.”

On the NYT’s policy in using anonymous sources in stories:
“Obviously, you would like to have not just on-the-record sources, but documentary evidence for everything you put in the newspaper, but if you refused to publish stories that included anonymously sourced information, most of the most important things we know about how our country is run would not published – there are things you just cannot find without being willing to protect your sources.”

*NPR web-exclusive
On why the NYT thought McCain’s relationship to Iseman was relevant and newsworthy for a story:

“He [McCain] came back from Vietnam a hero, entered into public life and then was felled by the Keating five scandal, if you read his books, it was clearly a humiliating event for him. And he subsequently built his political life on themes of redemption, reform, you know, rectitude, if you will – and became the scourge of lobbyists, the champion of campaign finance reform, and so on, in Washington.”

“Yet, according to some people who knew him best, he can be surprisingly careless about his reputation, and that’s what I think this, his relationship with this particular lobbyist illustrates, although I think there’s a lot of other illustrations as well in the piece.”

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All Things Considered, NPR's signature afternoon news magazine, reaches 11 million listeners weekly, and is hosted by Melissa Block, Michele Norris and Robert Siegel. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations