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Times Article on McCain Fuels Controversy over Coverage

A New York Times article published last week suggesting that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had an improper relationship with a Washington lobbyist sparked debate over the media's role in covering presidential politics and prompted a response by the Times' ombudsman. Experts weigh the relationship between media and politics.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And that brings us to the continuing debate over the New York Times and its John McCain story. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    It was put forward as part of a series of stories on presidential candidates, but the New York Times article that appeared Thursday on Senator McCain's close ties to a female lobbyist has become a story itself.

    The article reported that during his 2000 bid for the presidency McCain's staff confronted him about his ties to Vicki Iseman, then a lobbyist for telecommunications companies with business before the Senate committee headed by McCain.

    The report said several unnamed former top advisers were, quote, "convinced the relationship had become romantic" and that McCain had, quote, "acknowledged behaving inappropriately."

    Both McCain and Iseman denied they'd had a romantic relationship. And at a hastily arranged press conference Thursday morning, McCain disputed much of the Times' reporting.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: I'm very disappointed in the New York Times' piece. It's not true.

  • JOURNALIST:

    Senator, did you ever have any meeting with any of your staffers in which they would have intervened to ask you not to see Vicki Iseman or to be concerned about appearances of being too close to a lobbyist?

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:

    No.

  • JOURNALIST:

    No meeting ever occurred?

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:

    No.

  • JOURNALIST:

    No staffer was ever concerned about a possible romantic relationship?

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:

    If they were, they didn't communicate that to me.

  • JOURNALIST:

    Did you ever have such relationship?

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:

    No.