February 21st, 2008
03:45 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Journalists 'not going to let up' on McCain

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/14/art.mccain0214.ap.jpg caption="Blitzer: The story of McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman may 'have legs.'"] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Once again, a major news organization makes a stunning allegation involving a prominent politician. This time it’s The New York Times versus John McCain.

The Republican presidential candidate went before the news media today to flatly deny the accusations – namely, that he may have had an improper relationship with a Washington telecommunications lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. And the New York Times issued a statement sticking by its story. Now, a lot of other major news organizations are following up.

The Washington Post wasted little time. In its front-page story today, reporters Jeffrey Birnbaum and Michael Shear confirmed an account in the Times of a meeting between former McCain senior adviser John Weaver and Iseman in Union Station in Washington where he “urged her to stay away from McCain.”

The Post reporters wrote: “Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.” The Times said aides were concerned about what Iseman was saying publicly - whether she had given the impression of a special relationship with or special treatment from McCain.

Weaver was quoted on-the-record.

The Post then quoted unnamed sources as saying that the senator’s “small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly…warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions” during his first White House bid in 2000.

McCain, at his news conference, denied that his senior staff had ever confronted him about his friendship with Iseman. He said they may have had discussions among themselves, but they never approached him.

That is but one of several discrepancies between what The Washington Post and The New York Times are reporting, on the one hand, and what McCain and his campaign are saying on the other.

Here’s the bottom line: I suspect this story, as we in the journalistic community say, has legs. News organizations are not going to let up – not yet, especially when a potential President of the United States is concerned.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Johnson

    I hope that the News organizations don't let up. Nor should they. The responsibility of the news stations is to report the news. That includes anything that they can get their hands on...with a certain level of evidence. I'm glad that this came out now and not during the campaign.

    February 21, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. David

    We need change from Corporate Government to Government for the people! Like it USED TO BE in this country, before the so called Christian Right took control of the Republicans, now everything from insurence companies and banks as well as obviously all the oil industry serve themselves and their wealth at the strangling expence to everyone else!

    February 21, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Patrick Anthony Drake

    The courage of a hero is unrivaled.

    February 21, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Sean

    Here is an idea for ya Wolf..... Why not look into Obama's left wing platform and explain how it’s going to "reach across pary lines" and end partisanship?

    February 21, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. raf

    I don't get this.

    Rush Limbaugh criticizes the NYT for doing a "drive by" smear piece on McCain, even though he himself has attacked McCain for things as trivial as his age.

    Meanwhile, everyone else who condemns the "liberal newspaper" conveniently ignores the fact that the NYT endorsed McCain in the first place.

    February 21, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. TheLeftNut

    Why would anyone let up on McCain.

    Shoot! Bill's been out of office for how long and nobody's letting up on him.

    McCain has baggage, he needs to go through the security check like everyone else.

    February 21, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Wayne, Wentzville MO

    I strongly suspect that John McCain is as guilty as sin, and he knows it. He's only denying the allegations because he's banking on the theory that The New York Times doesn't have any credible evidence to prove their allegations.

    I suspect that this story will dog McCain all the way to the November elections. If a person can't keep an oath with their spouse, then they sure as heck can't keep an oath on behalf of the American people. If the allegations are indeed found to be true, then it's obvious that Mr. McCain isn't presidential material.

    Regardless, my personal vote in November will be for Senator Barack Obama, so that this country can move significantly forward, and not backwards. And so far, all McCain can talk about is his ability to unite his own republican party, well what about UNITING the country? The undeniable choice is Obama in 2008!

    February 21, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. T

    First of all I am extremely sick of all the mud slinging. It reminds me of a little league game where the parents are not happy with the way the game is going and they conduct themselves in the most unbecoming manner imaginable. Let get it together. Now, I need to point out that I am seriously appalled with the timing of this article. If is important to bring out now, it was important a long time ago. Shame on you NY Times!!! However, I don't think this needs to go away until answers are known. McCain's whole platform in based on integrity and his experience and his attack on the other candidates speaks of their lack of integrity and their lack experience and leadership. This is so serious. If this is true, the inappropriate behavior as well as the alleged favors, he should be held accountable. However, if the New York Times doesn't have the guts to lay it on the line and provide proof (names), they need to stop. To just lay it out there and say the story speaks for itself is unfair and completely reckless. Where's the beef???

    February 21, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. Concern Voter, VA

    You know I am done with all media!!! The Obama negaitve stories get 2 minutes of press and then the stories are thrown aside and given no merit. If it is Clinton or especially a Republican the story is more negative and last as long as the media wants it to. The Media is giving or better yet handing the nomination and if they can the General election to Obama. It is one of the most frustrating things I have experienced since becoming a voter 27 years ago. And there is nothing I can do but cast one vote and blog. At that most of my blogs don't make don't make it. Go figure since most of my blogs have been a protest of how Obama is getting great treatment form the press.

    February 21, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. David Jones

    yes, they need to scrutinize him alot more to than what he is putting up...

    February 21, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  11. Brandon

    So Wolf...IF and ONLY IF Its true, then does he get the Bill Clinton treatment?

    Missouri

    February 21, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. J

    no matter who you support as our next president, this type of smear campaign that offers no proof or facts is completely wrong. i'm not a mccain supporter. i imagine that this story if it were directed at clinton or obama would have TONS of mccain supporters commenting on morals and how terrible it is that they would do something like this no matter how unfounded or ridiculous. so i hope everyone will step back and think before jumping on the negative bandwagons that the media gives us that are created to divide us. are we such lemmings that we are so easily distracted and led? come on, let's get smarter. or at least pretend to be!

    February 21, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Val

    That is why the media has pushed so hard for McCain to be the Republican nominee so that they could destroy any chances Republicans had in capturing the White House in November of 08. That is exactly why the liberal media didn't want Romney to be the Republican nominee because they didn't and couldn't have had any dirt on him.

    America is doomed with Obama as president.

    February 21, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Dave in Houston

    McCain sez, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman - Ms. Iseman."

    Yeah, right.

    February 21, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. steve

    Wolf, I believe the story will help McCain, McCain is no Clinton! and everybody knows it. The man was going to run for president down the road, I don't think this man with his back ground would jeopardize something like the presidency. Thanks

    February 21, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Byron Goodgame

    It's always amazed me when news organizations use unnamed sources to run a story..This practice from what I've observed was made popular by the likes of cnn and msnbc, and it only makes sense it would filter down to the newspapers as well. How many stories that are on cnn right now have unnamed sources? Also why do we as the public pay any attention to stories that have unnamed sources? Without anyone to go on the record all we are really reading is a story. Once it actually has someone on the record it then becomes news. When did we as a society lose sight of this?

    February 21, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Ardnuas

    The news reporters NEED to stay on this story....... WE ARE TIRED OF THE SAME OLD POLITICS....... WE NEED SOME NEW PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Obama/Edwards08 Si Se Puede

    February 21, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Oh Boy

    Didn't the New York Times endorsed John McCain as the Republican nominee!

    February 21, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Not a Huckster

    Ahhh... The poor Senator is getting a little bit of his own Medicine and he doesn't like it. Poor, poor guy. I feel so sorry for him. I like how Huckabee is not jumping on this. Isn't this what he was hoping for? I think this tells you that Huck is running for VP and not Pres. This is by far the 4 worst Choices we have for President. I mean some on.

    McCain – WAR WAR WAR
    Huckabee – HORRIBLE JOKES, HORRIBLE PLANS
    Obama – JUST WORDS, NO PLANS OR DETAILS
    Clinton – POWER TRIPPIN FEMINIST

    Next 4 Years are going to be worse than the previous 4 with any of these clowns.

    February 21, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. Nando, Florida

    well thats all she wrote for MCCAIN and the 1000 Years of WAR MONGERING!!!!!!!!!

    February 21, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. Phong Nguyen

    The voters do not know much about Senator Obama's private life besides his admission that he used drugs during his younger days and recently that he quit smoking to run for the presidency. He seems too perfect but one thing I know for sure is that saints do not get involved in politics. Senator Obama is too charismatic to be spared by other ladies!

    February 21, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Sonja In Phx

    How bout the news actually report news... not make news please. I think this is absurd, thats all they've got on mccain.

    February 21, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. Jeff an Independent

    I just hope that as reports unfold, there is clarity between this woman's claims of influence as a lobbyist (which Weaver asked her to stop making) and the Time's INFERENCE of an improper personal relationship – which Weaver is clear HE was not inferring.

    These things tend to get muddied in the heat of the moment, and I hope that the press is more responsible than usual.

    February 21, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Charlotte

    With you and all other CNN people pushing for Obama, I'm sure it will hurt him.

    February 21, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. An Agnostic Democrat

    Wait unitl McCain blows a gasket on the air since he isn't well known for controlling his temper! That'll make for good T.V. A real reality show at it's finest and unfortunately darkest hour.

    Can we please have another helpin' o' that Republican self-righteous indignation? You gotta hand it to 'em. They learnt one thang real well from Bubba!!!

    February 21, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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