I’m late to the game on this, but I see that Vicki Iseman dropped her lawsuit against the NY Times in return for letting her lawyers make a statement, and the NY Times contends that they were not and are not apologizing while Iseman has told the Politico otherwise.
You can read the original story here, and I still think now, as I did then, that what the Times did was sleazy and wrong. They essentially published rumors that McCain staffers had at one point thought McCain was having an affair with Iseman, and somehow or another the Times wanted us to believe that they were not asserting that McCain had actually had the affair, just that others thought he had (wink wink). It was a pretty crappy spectacle, if you ask me, and it is a mark on the Times.
Beyond that, though, I think it was just terrible journalism, because the sexing up (if you will) of the story with the affair nonsense obscured the entire premise, which the Times didn’t even get to until the sixth paragraph of the original story:
But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.
Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)
Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.
There was and still is no reason for the Iseman stuff to underscore anything- the subsequent examples about the corporate jets made the point by itself. When you consider that there was much noise at the time about the fact that many of McCain’s campaign team were in fact lobbyists, this was a valid point, but it got lost in the sleaze of the Iseman rumors. And because the lead of the story was a bunch of stuffs about an affair, you know what everyone was talking about the next day. McCain supporters had every right and reason to be furious about this.
It was sleazy, and the Times did themselves and their readers a profound disservice, and continue to do themselves a disservice with their weaselly handling of their statement yesterday.