And today's Washington Post, following up on its own story of the day before that focused more on the lobbyist angle, gets to the heart of who John McCain really is in bed with:
The relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman -- who represented a client with business before the Federal Communications, which received a questionable letter from Commerce Committee Chairman McCain -- is really about influence.
But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.
Even before McCain finished his news conference, uber-lobbyist Black made the rounds of television networks to defend McCain against charges that he has been tainted by his relationship with a lobbyist. Black's current clients include General Motors, United Technologies, JPMorgan and AT&T.
In McCain's case, the fact that lobbyists are essentially running his presidential campaign -- most of them as volunteers -- seems to some people to be at odds with his anti-lobbying rhetoric. "He has a closer relationship with lobbyists than he lets on," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "The problem for McCain being so closely associated with lobbyists is that he's the candidate most closely associated with attacking lobbyists."The single biggest "error" in the Times' story was the ill-sourced innuendo. That allowed McCain's backers to make it about sex rather than hypocrisy. And allow them to run against The Times.
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.But it may not be working as well as they hoped:
The article drew conservative commentators, many of whom have attacked Mr. McCain throughout the campaign, to join in the criticism of The Times. Rush Limbaugh opened his radio program on Thursday by saying that “if you let the media make you, you are subjecting yourself to the media being able to destroy you.”
“The important question for John McCain today is, Is he going to learn the right lesson from this, and what is the lesson?” Mr. Limbaugh said, according to a transcript posted on his Web site. “The lesson is liberals are to be defeated. You cannot walk across the aisle with them. You cannot reach across the aisle. You cannot welcome their media members on your bus and get all cozy with them and expect eternal love from them.”