If Lawyers Wrote The New York Times. . .

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We would have a lot more cryptic gobbledygook like this to read:

An article published on February 21, 2008, about Senator John McCain and his record as an ethics reformer who was at times blind to potential conflicts of interest included references to Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist. The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.

Um, yeah, well, I guess “intend to conclude” and “state” are the verbs that you get paid $300 an hour to come up with. Let us go back to the beginning, and recall what the New York Times did write about McCain and Iseman:

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity. . . . A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices. In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others. Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.

Iseman, who won the editor’s note after filing a libel suit against the New York Times, has, I am sure, taken great comfort from discovering that the New York Times did not mean to conclude what just about every reader in the nation seemed to conclude about the Times story. (It should also be noted that the editor’s note was clearly heartfelt, given the statement of a Times editor that accompanied it: “We paid no money. We did not apologize,” wrote Dean Baquet, in a staff memo.)

Let me just end this blog post by making clear that I did not state or intend to conclude in the above text that the New York Times did anything innappropriate, unprofessional or shameful in publishing unproven rumors about a presidential candidate having an affair with a lobbyist.