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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Andy Martin on the New York Times smear of Senator John McCain

Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”





(CHICAGO)(February 21, 2008) Good staff work is the hallmark of a successful congressional office. The same is true for a presidential campaign. Just ask Hillary Clinton what a weak staff can do. John McCain is now being smeared because he had a strong staff that expressed concern about the undue presence of a lobbyist in McCain’s senate offices. This is a scandal?

It’s a joke. Pity the poor New York Times that the paper is so starved for relevance that it has cooked up an “FCC dinner” that would make a TV dinner look like a royal feast.

I tuned into MSNBC Wednesday evening and almost called 911 to report Keith Olbermann hyperventilating and on the verge of collapse. Olbermann was breathlessly speaking with his regular contributors about a “scandal” involving Senator John McCain and a lobbyist that was being reported by the New York Times web site. I watched as the virus spread to Fox News and possibly even to CNN.

And then I read the story.

What a disappointment. I never thought of McCain as a Capitol Hill sexpot and, after investigating him for months, apparently neither does the Times.

The Times has been running profiles on the presidential candidates and it became McCain’s turn to face the gauntlet. Apparently there had been “research” and “investigative reporting” going on for months. But the Times found nothing. There was nothing new to report. But was no news good news? Not when the Times was “investigating.”

Most of the material in the Times “expose” is so stale it is reported in McCain’s own memoir. Finding nothing in the 2008 campaign to write about the Times merely segued back to the year 2000 and wrote about a female lobbyist that had been banned from the senator’s office. Well.

Staff members are highly protective of their legislators. And if they are looking ahead to careers in the capital they learn quickly what’s right and what’s wrong. Capitol Hill and congress are a small city. If a lobbyist is running her mouth, word will get around. Apparently McCain’s openness to one lobbyist, and her claims of “access” to the senator (“access!”) boomeranged back to the senator’s office. Most likely, as the Times suggests, the staff were horrified. And they clobbered her. I see that as the work of an ethical staff working to assist an ethical senator.

They also took the senator aside and warned him what was happening. And nothing happened. Did the senator write letters to the FCC? Yes he did; he writes about the exchanges in his book. But I myself have asked senators to write letters to the Federal Communications Commission. I didn’t think that I was doing anything improper or unethical. Congressional offices routinely have contact with the FCC staff. That is not to say FCC commissioners like congressional meddling; they don’t.

I have been in and out of Washington for forty-two (count’em) years. That’s a long time. I’m listed in the phone book. McCain has also been around along time. I have seldom seen a more ethical man, a senator who repeatedly took on his party and took on the crybaby conservative talk show hosts to do what he thought was right.

Is McCain flawless? Not by a country mile. McCain was embroiled in the Keating Five scandal and, as the senate’s own special counsel stated on Fox News Wednesday night, special counsel suggested McCain played no meaningful role in that unfortunate episode. Democrats held McCain hostage to cover their own corruption.

Because I know McCain very deeply, I know his strengths and his weaknesses, and weak ethics are not one of his vulnerabilities.

I am a Republican, and I am proud that Senator McCain will be the nominee for president of my party. Coming from Illinois, which is a cesspool of bipartisan corruption (yes, like McCain, I can spot Republican crooks just as easily as Democratic ones), I wish McCain represented Illinois instead of Arizona. We need him more.

Frankly, I find the behavior of the media, from the New York Times on down to the cable network hyperventilators, juvenile, desperate and disgusting. The media has shamed itself in this instance.

If I were McCain I would simply stay “I had and have a strong staff, because I encourage openness. My staff members did their job, and I salute them for it. That’s the kind of a tough team I will take to the White House.”

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2008. Martin covers regional, national and world events with forty years of experience. He has almost forty years of experience in the Middle East, and is America’s most respected independent foreign policy and intelligence analyst. Andy is a former candidate for U. S. Senator from Illinois. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Columns also posted at; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639. Web sites:,


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