September 24th, 2008
10:56 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain aide: New York Times an 'Obama advocacy organization'

The NYT story is charging that Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager has accepted retainers from Freddie Mac.

The NYT story is charging that Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager has accepted retainers from Freddie Mac.

(CNN) - A senior McCain aide reacted to the latest New York Times investigation into a top campaign advisor Wednesday with a scathing memo that called the Times a “failing business” and the allegation “demonstrably false.”

The story, which charges that a firm formerly headed by campaign manager Rick Davis had received a monthly $15,000 retainer from mortgage giant Freddie Mac until the government took it over this month – is “a partisan attack falsely labeled as objective news” from “an Obama advocacy organization,” wrote McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

The paper, said Goldfarb, “obscures its true intentions - to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama - under the cloak of objective journalism.”

The memo is the latest salvo in a heated battle between the McCain campaign and the paper. Relations between McCain and the Times have been at a low ebb for months, since the paper explored the relationship between the candidate and a female lobbyist.

A weekend Times investigation into campaign manager Rick Davis’s links to a lobbying coalition, and the challenge of recent campaign misstatements, was met with a Monday morning conference call of complaint from Davis and senior advisor Steve Schmidt to reporters. That call was notable for the hostility directed by Schmidt - who had earlier accused the media of being on a “mission to destroy” Sarah Palin - at journalists in general, and the Times in particular.

Schmidt’s Monday conference call criticism was the toughest yet: the Times, he said, was “150 percent in the tank” for Obama. The statement drew a defiant response from managing editor Bill Keller.

Reporters in Washington expecting a rare lunch briefing from Rick Davis Wednesday were sent a message late Tuesday afternoon he was unexpectedly back “on the trail” - as news broke of the new Times piece calling his recent denials of a financial relationship with mortgage giant Freddie Mac into question.

“The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche,” wrote Goldfarb. “It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper's reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.”

In his memo, posted on the campaign’s Web site Wednesday morning, Goldfarb said Davis had not been a paid lobbyist since 2005, and had never lobbied on behalf of either Freddie Mac or fellow lender Fannie Mae. The Times piece did not allege that Davis had performed services on the company’s behalf.

Goldfarb said Davis had not received any income from the firm, Davis Manafort, since 2006 – and accused the Times of failing to investigate similar charges leveled against David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s senior strategist.

On Tuesday, the Obama team circulated a list detailing what it called several dozen Times investigations into the Democratic nominee, his family and his campaign.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (532 Responses)
  1. Lia

    Obvious we need Obama/Biden as our president !!

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Tony

    Do the REPUBLICANS ever stop whining????????????????

    Only 40 some more days until we say GOODBYE GOP!

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. The Truth Will Set You Free

    If the press is doing it's job as a watchdog, it's going to upset a few people. Generally, it's only those who have been caught that get defensive. If Mr. Davis has not been accepting money from Freddie Mac, then he has nothing to worry about with this investigation.

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. a new voice

    Moderate and Balanced, You are splitting hairs. Radio was the "television" (main media source) of its time and pretty easy to slip up. Dumb mistake, but does not reflect on his intelligence because... FDR WAS president during the Great depression. We say the start of the depression was October 1929, when the market crashed, but wages production and jobs started dropping in mid 1930's, hitting its lowest point in 1933. FDR was inaugurated in January 1931. Also, he did do radio addresses that laid out what had happened and what he planned on doing about it.

    Find something better to complain about. You add nothing to the discourse.

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Jeremy

    If the McCain campaign knows of an actual falsehood printed by the New York Times, they should sue for libel... otherwise they should stop whining. At the beginning of this campaign there was a concern that Obama wouldn't be able to handle the pressure of the media and pundits. It seems like McCain is the one who doesn't have the stomach for it.

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. kevinkris

    McCain campaign manager is innocent. He haven't received a dime from Fannie Mae. He was never a lobbyist.

    Country First !!!

    McCain/ Palin '08 '12
    Palin/ Cheney '16 '20

    20 more years of Reform, Prosperity and Peace !!!
    100 more years in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan !!!

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  7. Wendy in NC

    It is not just the NYT that is reporting this, I saw it on Rachel Maddow last night, scooped by a Newsweek reporter. Rick Davis is scum.
    (Keating 5)
    Also no one is writing about Ayers because there is simply nothing there, other than the two sat on the same Board for a year – that's definitely not the same. Obama has been dragged thru the mud for 20 months now (the same length of time Sarah has been governor) so it's time the mud hits the other side of the road.

    Obama/Biden 08 or suffer the consequences

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. mollygonz

    The more they whine, the worse they look. What about Fox News Rick Davis?? Who are they in the tank for? Why is your campaign trying to change the subject from the failing economy? You know you are in hot water now because Obama looks so much more presidential in this situation. The New York Times told the truth about your ties to Freddie Mac and you cry hoo. Grow up, take accountability and stop lying!

    September 24, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. mj

    Why doesn't someone investigate Keating 5 more extensively? Each of these candidate has a bit of a cloud on certain aspects of their lives. The Ayres, Renko stuff has been drug through the laundry but there hasn't been much on Keating 5. And I have a feeling that Palin's hidden side is just beginning to show. Also, with Fox News, Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax and all these wonderful "free" books available to slam Obama and boost McCain/ Palin, there is a need on both sides to present the truth without getting into some reactionary claim that is simply not true.

    September 24, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Publius

    Gina: Give Mary some credit...after all, she was a Journalism minor! (wink).

    The fact is that the Karl Rove school has been successful in convincing most Americans that a "liberal" bias exists in the media. Therefore, conservatives are mistrustful of anything they see or read in the media. The fact is that a free press is the last great defense for the American people to question their leaders. Its is undoubtedly the primary objective of the press to ask hard questions of our leaders to get the truth for the american people. If those questions seem unabashedly left-leaning, it is only because the conservative right has been in power for so long, thus creating the appearance that those "hard" questions are unfairly supportive of the left's causes.

    September 24, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. victor,nj


    September 24, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. R.I.F.

    I've seen dozens of investigative articles done on Obama by the NYT so they are just using the ole "libreal media" line to distract from the real story here. These are the exact same tactics that were used by Bush and it turns out that Bush was a liar who was only about making the rich richer.

    They are trying to get around this story by saying that the firm did not "lobby" for Freddie Mac which makes it worse. Why would a compnay pay $15,000 every month to a lobbying firm who's founding partner is a presidential candidate's campaign manager??? Once again the GOP is acting like we are stupid.

    September 24, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. Truly American

    All you bleeding heart liberals, and I mean liberals. No experience/not ready to lead Jobama is the most left representative in the Senate. He also is the least qualified canidate ever elected to head a party.

    If we poorly choose and the dems win the election, I will happily continue to read and respond while you all loose your small businesses and jobs.

    Go ahead vote Obama and lead the US to complete disaster.

    September 24, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  14. reagan

    Lies Lies Lies.

    O'Bamarama is so full of it he needs a shovel to dig himself out.

    If you seriously vote for Obamaramamaa your an idiot who should have your social security card torn up and a one-way ticket out of this country.

    Go live in Cuba and call us once in awhile to tell us how great socialized governement is.

    Real Americans will vote McCain!

    September 24, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Victoria Anderson - Seattle, Washington

    So what, and what's the problem with that?
    Fox News is an Advocacy Organizaton for the McPain Party.... Check the facts on that!

    September 24, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. Lenny, Dallas

    I don't think Obama wants to keep pushing this argument on lobbyists. David Axelrod (his campaign manager) is probably the MOST CURRUPT lobbyist in America today. ASK Public Strategies which Axelrod owns, took a $1.1 million dollar contract from Cablevision to lobby for the blockage of a new staduim for the New York Jets in Manhattan. That was the largest lobbying contract for 2004. ASK has done a ton of shady stuff as a lobbyist company. I don't think you will hear any of that from the NY Times because all of their reporters and editors have selective amnesia when it comes down to Obama.

    September 24, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Eli1500

    Its SCARY that this same economic cancer happened in the 80s with McCain in the drivers seat (Keating 5). Now its happening again and who caused it –Republicans, yes face it. McCain caused it? maybe not, but Im sure he help, big time. The avg American doent have $$$ yet how can they vote for this guy. McCain IS NOT for the avg American. He, like the Bushes and Republicans, donot know the avg American.
    If the Racial Christians predicted that the end of time was within 100 years Bush took off 50!!! Now they want McCain to take off the other 50, to make sure its done. Lets face it America, rather you vote for NObama or McSame we are doomed, America will file for bankruptcy and the Chinese will come collecting. Hey would they take the Constitution for 20Trillion?

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Chris

    This is in response to 'N Y T is a rag', OBAMA is not on the take for Fannie and Freddie. Those donation were made by employees who work at the place. The GOP was grasping at straw trying to tie OBAMA to those two companies. Oh and Rezco is pretty much all in the media and it has been shown that Obama did nothing wrong. So go get a grip and do some reading and investigation on your own before you fall for all the little sound bites you are getting on Obama. I swear if folks would just go and do there own research, they wouldn't fall for the information that is peddled to the un informed by the media and the GOP!!!

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. simonbuc

    How is it "being in the tank for Obama" to print the truth?

    The McCain campaign doesn't deny that Davis's firm has been paid this money, merely that Davis didn't benefit personally via salary or profit share. Well, he doesn't have to – he's paid, generously I'm sure, by the McCain campaign, and presumably retains equity in the firm. The campaign didn't deny this, and refused to answer the direct question.

    Even if he divested it, it makes almost no difference – it bears his name and he presumably will go straight back there on 11/5 if McCain loses.

    It's highly reminiscent of the Mark Penn/Colombia trade pact scam which forced him to withdraw from Hillary Clinton's campaign.

    And the conclusions one can draw are very similar – poor judgment on the part of the candidate, shameless greed and dishonesty on the part of the accused.

    How much more evidence do we need of McCain's unfitness to lead our country?

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Chris, AZ

    Demonstratably false? Then, demonstrate it. Just because the NYT is biased doesn't mean it's not true.

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Excuses, excuses....

    Blaming the media has been and always will be a copout.

    John McCain used to call the media his "base". So for him to attack them the way he has comes off as being desparate and pathetic.

    Quit running a crappy campaign based almost exclusively on easily refuted lies and maybe the media wouldn't have to call you out so much....

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. SCC

    Noah wrote:
    "The NYTimes investigating a McCain advisor when they refused to investigate Obama's ties to William Ayers, Reveren Wright, Richard Raines, or any of his other friends??? So transparent…. Journalism has officially died."

    If you and your republican firends would actually read the papers, you would see that they did investigate Ayers, Wright, raines, etc. and THEY FOUND NOTHING!! Let me repeat slowly so you can understand....T H E Y F O U N D N O T H I N G!!

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. miken

    Anyone who has read the NYT with an open mind knows it is in the tank for Obama. Whether you like McCain or not we as Americans should all be furious with the NY Times for their efforts to mislead us.

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. proud army and navy mom

    a few months ago, the mccain campaign was quoting the times like it was the gospel truth, now because the reporters actually investigated and reported on them, the repugs are outraged.

    Spare us the false indignation, we know it just a way too divert the truth.

    Please stop whining repugs, you are giving me a headache with all the lies.

    September 24, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Joanne

    That 's how has his what 7 houses and how many cars does he own. Pailin who's telling all the Lies now!!! You can't blame this one on the Obama people !! I have lost over17% in the last week of my 401K
    plan i am so angry that they let this happen. Obama/Biden 08

    September 24, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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