Josh Marshall, fresh off his Polk Award, does a good job of putting into perspective today’s New York Times story on John McCain, which suggests, without quite saying out loud, that he may have had an affair with a lobbyist for whom he did favors during his 2000 “straight talk” campaign.
Word is that the McCain campaign tried to spike this story back in December. At Salon, Alex Koppelman recalls that it made a brief appearance on Drudge around that time, then went underground. Is it a legitimate story? Marshall thinks so, but hedges his bets:
I find it very difficult to believe that the Times would have put their chin so far out on this story if they didn’t know a lot more than they felt they could put in the article, at least on the first go. But in a decade of doing this, I’ve learned not to give any benefits of the doubt, even to the most esteemed institutions.
If this has legs, Mitt Romney clearly has plenty to howl about. It would have been the story of the campaign. Then again, Romney has merely “suspended” his campaign, hasn’t he?
Not that this can be compared to the Times’ mind-blowing decision to hold its story on the Bush administration’s no-warrant wiretapping program for more than a year, until after the 2004 presidential election. That still stands as some sort of record.
More: The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz offers some context.
Still more: Adam Reilly notes that Sam Stein hit the Romney angle last night. OK, let me try for something else original: Is this bad news for Hillary Clinton or what? For her to have any chance of staging a comeback in Texas and Ohio, she’s got to (a) get the media to subject Barack Obama to a raking-over of epic proportions and then (b) hope something turns up. Right now, thanks to the Times, (a) looks pretty unlikely.