NPR logo

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/19236802/19235938" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Substance or Smear?

Substance or Smear?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/19236802/19235938" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sen. McCain today at Charlie's Restaurant in Perrysburg, Ohio. Source: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Source: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Last night, The New York Times posted a story on its website about the relationship between Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who, in 1999, "had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client's corporate jet." (The article, "For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk," was published in the newspaper's print edition today). The four reporters who wrote the piece spent many months on it, and according to The New Republic, The New York Times's Washington newsroom was divided over the story's newsworthiness and importance.

According to the article, staffers feared that Iseman and Sen. McCain spent too much time together;and that, even if they weren't having an affair, his relationship with a major lobbyist for several telecommunications companies could ruin his political career, especially in the wake of the Keating Five Scandal, in which Sen. McCain was implicated back in 1991.

The piece is carefully worded, murky at times. And it prompted this response from the McCain campaign:

It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.

Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.

Article continues after sponsorship

NPR's Washington editor, Ron Elving, will join us, to weigh in on the story's substance and significance. If you have questions for him, please leave them here.