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. jaduffy007

    As someone who disagrees with McCain on just about EVERYTHING (i'm a leftist liberal)...the NY Times should be ashamed of themselves. *IF* that is all the evidence they have...their article is slander.

    We MUST end corporation control of our media....democracy is dying.

    February 21, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Bayou Joe

    White the media is scrutinizing McCain. How about doing the same with Obama and his deals in Illinois. You also might consider looking into the millions coming from the internet. The internet is World Wide. Hello, Overseas money. That would really make a good story. With the poor people supposedly supporting him, where is the real money coming from. CNN can't have it both ways.

    February 21, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Vic

    We'll be watching how the "Best Political Team treats this story in relation your treatment of Clinton's –Bill, that is - missteps....just as we watched how you treated Obama's plagiarism in relation to Biden's of Neil Kinnock's piece, which led to Biden dropping out of the 1988 race for the White House.
    Try to be impartial - or end up as Fox.
    Try to retain some of your dwindling credibility as political commentators.
    Remeber what Begala said...he's the only Clinton supporter at CNN!!

    February 21, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Jane Davis

    I have been an enthusiastic viewer of yours for most of your career, but I cannot agree re the NYTimes McCain article. It was based on anonymous tips and a discharged employee. I am a lifelong Democrat and NYTimes subscriber, but this article is a shameful example of poor reporting about a distinguished servant of his country. Unfortunately the Times is not the newspaper it once was.
    Jane Davis

    February 21, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. Sonja In Phx

    An article based on rumors this is not news. I cant beleive how americans just suck up this garbage. A make believe marital affair... and tying in issues from 20 yrs ago.

    February 21, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. alice

    No, they should not let up on the McCain story, and Why should they?? He is not exempt, the people have a right to know if he is not what he professes to be, very pure and never any wrong doings, (Ha, what a joke)

    February 21, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    McCain fell for the trap. NYT has more information. Given that McCain denied everything, so when the other shoe drops, McCain will be a goner,

    Welcome to Micke Huckebee for the nomination

    February 21, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Heather NC

    Wolf–I agree. This thing probably does have legs. But the truth, whatever that might be, needs to come out soon. We need to get it all out on the table. Deal with it (whatever that entails) and continue with an election. The New York Times seems to have left us all twisting in the wind here. If there were an ax to drop, I wished they'd have dropped it already.

    February 21, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Darko - New Orleans, LA

    NYTimes is such a crock. They've disgraced themselves more than enough in the last few years. Reporting stories concerning national security secrets...?

    This entire story is heresay. You don't put out a hit job like this on a presidential candidate without EVIDENCE. Heresay is NOT evidence.

    Lobbyist hang around politicians all the time, it's their job. The story has not ONE shread of evidence that the Senator acted inappropriately. The lobbyist may and probably did, but not the Senator. So until the media can find some evidience to bring against him, this is disgusting whether you support his candidacy or not.

    February 21, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. MaryHelen Ward

    McCains camp can holler all they want about this so called smear campaign; in my neck of the woods, it's not a smear campaign if its true.

    February 21, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Lucas, Nashville TN

    The harsh light of discovery and truth should be shined on McCain and I hope he gets a proverbial sun burn from it.

    The man is not trustworthy. He's inconsistent. He is a true flip flopper.

    During this horrendous administration he took many stands only to back down whenever Dubya came around. I don't know if they had blackmail on him or what, but it's pathetic that he never followed through on standing up to King George II.

    I think McCain left his spine in Hanoi.

    February 21, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Darko - New Orleans, LA

    to Raf,

    They endorsed him because of all the republican candidates, they thought he was the weakest against the dems. You won't see a hint of support from now until November now that he's clearly the republican nomination.

    February 21, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. Mr. B.

    Do we not as a country deserve the truth

    February 21, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. James , in ,Oregon

    Personally i think there is something to this story. McCain is good at talking out both sides of his neck.

    February 21, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. sam

    Republicans talk something but do something exactly opposite....Against government spending and for small government ..But Bush created the largest budget deficit . No ethics ,moral or standard....

    February 21, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Sam

    Well Wolf, I'm glad you "suspect" the story has legs... nothing like hearsay and conjecture to throw more gas on the fire.

    Every politician everywhere has connections to lobbyists by trade. Just because he knows a lobbyist and is on friendly terms with her doesn't mean anything improper is going on. I am professor, and by trade I know my students and am friendly with them. This does not mean I have improper relations with them. If I was concerned that someone might get the impression of impropriety with a particular student I too would take additional steps to distance myself and make it clear that that was not the case.

    How about instead of baseless suspicions you lead the charge to rally against unsubstantiated smear politics, on both sides? Oh, but wait, then what would you have to report...

    February 21, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Shannon, Charlottesville, Virginia

    sean, because obama is about uniting us on common causes, not dividing us on religious intolerances, which is what we have had forced down our throats since reagan.

    February 21, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Dedrick


    What does Obama have to do with this story?
    Stick to the issue at hand, which is McCain. Shesh!

    February 21, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. jp/michigan

    No one looking at the most liberal candidate Barak Obama. He promises change by working across the aisle, but he hasn't done that since coming to Washington. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependable partisan vote in the Senate. If McCain or Clinton question Obama on his eloquent but empty call for change the media jumps all over them. Don't you think it time to Question Mr. Obama on his authenticity, credibility, record and fitness to be leader of the free world?

    February 21, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. JimII

    The "story" so far is that aides thought it would look bad for McCain to be seen with her because she is a lobbyist and, evidently because she is a young woman.

    Isn't it wrong to write about stuff like this with only innuendo.

    February 21, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. Justin W.J. in Phoenix

    I don’t believe this will hurt McCain in the short run. What this will do will make it harder for McCain to swiftboat his opponent in the future, after complaining that it had been done to him.

    February 21, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. greg

    When these "reporters" spend a few years getting beaten in a POW camp, they can attack McCain, otherwise they should keep their pinko-comie mouths shut!!

    February 21, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. Bill, Covington,LA


    You hope the news orginizarions don't give up. They are claiming this was happening in 2000 during, McCains first run at the presidency. Why pray tell have they waited seven years to put the story out? is there something suspect in the timing of this? Like the Obama, they had a dream, now they too are all wet.

    February 21, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Escaping the Cult of Obama

    Sean February 21st, 2008 4:48 pm ET
    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?


    Obama couldn't even unify the left – check out who won the main blue states such as NY, NJ, MA and CA. It certainly wasn't Oprahs boy.... He is creating partisanship.

    I wish there was ONE news outlet that would tell it how it is.

    February 21, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Patty Atlanta GA

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    This TRUE CONSERVATIVE thinks John McCain is a liar and an adulterer and a cheat and I don't believe a word he says and Gov. HUckabee should know better! Jesus saves.

    February 21, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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