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. Sue

    Hey CNN, Are you going to do to McCain what you did to Hillary Clinton? Many of Hillary's supporters have turned you off and tuned you out because of CNN's extreme bias toward Obama. This really creepy media obsession and the cult like behavior of the Obamabots will be exposed for what it is. Many of the worst dictators in history started out with a small fanatical following. I'm really frightened for this country if this guy manages to get elected.

    February 21, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Casey

    Wow: and that is how Huckabee became a Republican Presidential nominee folks.

    February 21, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  3. Sallie

    Hey Wolf,
    You ought to be ashamed, well really all of you should. I haven't seen one negative thing today on the Obama story today. Where's the Michelle Obama comment. You guys would never have let Hillary or Bill get away with that. We would have heard about it for days. But then, you're distracting the public with McCain today. That should take the pressure off. You guys have just about elected you a president. The people in this country don't have any say in this country. You all have taken that away. This is democracy? All of you have sold out. None of you have any integrity as far as I can see. I hope all those gals there (black and white) realize that they would have no TV jobs today if it hadn't been for the Hillary Clintons of this world. They ought to really be ashamed.

    February 21, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. Media Balance

    What good is an endorsement if you run with a hearsay smear like this, eight years old, and no meat on the bone ? Meanwhile, where's the NYT on Huma Abedin and Hillary ? We've already seen the misquotes and spin by the NYT against McCain. NYT circulation continues to go down ... some surprise there !

    February 21, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Jenny, Rio Vista, CA

    There is nothing like a scandel to unite the republican party. They band together to attack someone, and when it's one of their own they band together to defend. The truth is irrevelant.

    February 21, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  6. kathleen, illinois

    You know, with John McCain all ready to trounce on
    Obama, he better clean house. WELL, since we are
    talking about cleaning house, let's get some real
    people that care in the White House and the evangelicals
    should not vote.

    February 21, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Jay Los Angeles

    @ David, Don't blame the woes of America on the Christian right, put the blame where it belongs, on bad policy, and bad representation, but here is the mind twister, we voted them in.

    I am a Christian democrat that has a lot of respect for the Christian conservative base, I don't agree with some issues they build on, but I don't agree with every issue my wife builds on, go figure that.

    So, I guess I am one of the Christians that have learned to disagree without being disagreeable.

    February 21, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. S. T.

    Blah, blah, blah. I wish the news could find something good to report about.

    February 21, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. Theo

    Wolf...you know that it takes courage to stand up and speak up, it takes courage to sit and listen...'wilson churchil' wow...after carefully wacthing Mcain live denying all accusations and re-calling and apologising...there goes the smoking gun, what about the rolling stones!!!, 'our hero's past, vacstion history of the clinton's...i did not touch that woman... American's can not be decieved anylonger...

    February 21, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Brian

    The coronation of King Obama.

    If the reporters love change so much, why don't they for a "change" focus on this guy. There is some alarming stuff in his past that I don't think he completely understands.

    February 21, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  11. kathleen, illinois

    Well, the way McCain attacks good people, he is not a
    saint afterall. When he makes a mistake he defends himself
    by saying, I served my Country. Well, since he has lived on
    taxpayers dollars. You have to be a good person even after
    you served our Country. Maybe He and Cindy will leave Michelle
    Obama alone for a while, now.

    February 21, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. Sonmi

    Yes, this is gutter politics, and it's written because it sells. People eat it up. Some want dirt on Hillary Clinton. Some want dirt on Barack Obama. Some want dirt on John McCain. Some want dirt on Mike Huckabee. If it doesn't exist - just make it up or make a mountain out of a molehill and then commence shrieking bloody murder. Policy specifics get lost in these screaming matches. It's a race to the bottom and it's fueled by us, the people who don't demand integrity in journalism.

    I have a preference among these candidates, but I don't buy into the madness that the candidate that I support is a saint and that the others are therefore invariably demons from the pits of hell. The reason that our election cycles always descend into hateful identity politics, push polling, and attack media methods is well illustrated in the vitriolic posts so commonly found on message boards such as these.

    Feeding into this sensationalist tabloid media culture is a disservice to our country. We deserve better.

    February 21, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  13. Dani

    I think that the news media need to stay with the issues and quit trying to sway the election unfairly by focusing on topics that are not affecting the general public. We have bigger problems as a nation than who McCain may or may not have had a fling with or any special favors she may or may not have received. No one knows for sure, so get back to the issues, the ones that have valid verifiable facts and give objective coverage rather than slanted. The news media really sucks this election as far as the view they portray with Obama being Teflon and everyone else be put through the ringer and hung up to dry for any little thing. It's absolutely ridiculous.

    February 21, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Brian

    And one more thing everyone should take very seriously. The exodus of American businesses are going to excel in the next couple of years should we crown King Obama. He is proposing to give tax breaks to companies that are here and yet proposing to tax conglomerates that are here as well. It makes no sense.

    He is also proposing that people who make less money should pay less for the system that benefits them. I don't completely disagree, but I don't think it is healthy. All I know is that there will be more welfare, less work, less responsibility. I know it is to complex for King Obama to understand, but it is what it is.

    February 21, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Joe

    The New York Times running a negative story about a Republican? What a shock!! That paper is a complete joke and so are the people who consider it any different from the Post or the Daily News.

    February 21, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Brian

    The New York Times Editorial Page endorsed McCain. I hate to split hairs, but there is a difference.

    With the exception of Weaver, who is still an unpaid adviser to Mac's campaign, everyone has plenty of reason to fudge. Aides from the 2000 run may have a bone to pick, current staff, well, duh. And of course, McCain himself.

    But from what we know, Weaver has no reason to lie.

    The story wasn't finished. The NYT wanted a smoking gun before publication. But The New Republic forced their hand.

    I agree with Wolf on this - though the Times piece is no ringer, the rest of the press corps is going to be on this. And say what you will about the Times, the authors are squeaky clean and the Times can't afford another Yellow Cake. They know it and we know it. For that reason alone, I have to believe there is something to this that we don't have.

    Next question - does the press make this a sex thing or a lobbyist thing?

    That's sort of up to you, Wolfy!

    Stay tuned.

    February 21, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  17. OurTimeIsNow!

    Do you really think that we will elect Senator McCain to be our next President? Have you listened to any of his speeches? He has emphatically stated, that the tax cuts for the rich will remain and we will continue this war without an end in sight. How will anyone vote for Senator McCain whom will continue to execute in the same manner as the current President George Bush?

    Our Country is at its worst state. Nevermind the "No Child Left Behind Act". Our entire country is being left behind in terms of jobs, housing, economy, shools, crime, infrastructure, and our environment. We are in a crisis and we need someone who can bring our conuntry together...not divide it. Barack is that person. If you can't see that, something is seriously wrong. He has brought together the most diversed group of citizens and challenged them to stand for real change in not only our government...but within ourselves.

    There is a movement happening. Hillary talks about Change...However, Barack is change. Think about it!

    Obama 08'

    February 21, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  18. Ennis, LA

    They endorsed McCain because they wanted a weak Republican
    that's easy for the Democrats to beat. McCain, who is distrusted
    by many Republicans, serves their purpose. Would you have
    believed these same allgations aimed at Romney? Think.

    The liberal press desires an end to the Reagan Revolution
    and a weakened, controversial nominee like McCain lends
    itself to that agenda.

    February 21, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. Leeza

    I'm not a republican and will not vote for him. But I think this is stupid. Who cares if he did and who cares if he didn't what does this have to with education? I'm sick of everyone fighting so dirty.

    February 21, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Christopher

    Senator John McCain is a tired old man. Instead of running around he should devote his sunset years to spending more time with his family.

    It's insane that a 71 year old thinks he is capable of running a country.

    February 21, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  21. Ted

    We must have read different versions of the article, Wolf, because the article I read had just a pinch of content with a heavy dose of insinuation and innuendo thrown in. I'm not claiming that McCain is a saint, I just think the NY Times made a very poor and unethical decision to post an article which does not contain enough hard evidence of wrongdoing by McCain. The timing for the release of this article is also intriguing to say the least.

    February 21, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  22. Mike

    I have a gut feeling there is more to this. McCain flatly denied everything. Pretty strong stance. Now, let's see who comes out of the woodwork. They are likely to trip him up. There, in the least, is smoke.

    February 21, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  23. Hm.....

    I think that this is good change with the way everyone's been attacking obama recently. Just like with everything they've brought up against Obama, this means really nothing. McCain and his camp really should see what it's like on the defending side for a change. I would also like to say that obama hasn't insulted anyone yet and is already doing his part to clean up politics.

    Obama 08.......

    February 21, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. U.S. Army Vet.

    This is an obvious attempt to drum up support for a shagging candidate and his shagging campaign. He, McCain, is no more and no less a leach than Bill Clinton, and that is saying a lot. Big Bill got himself in big trouble over this issue. Let's see if McCain can avoid big trouble. My heart goes out to poor Cindy, the only thing she can do is stand their, watch, and shake her head and while her man explains how he was just friends to such a beautiful and young woman.

    February 21, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. L. Lyles

    Another Much Ado About Nothing. If the pundents think Obama will use that story against McCane they really don't know the character of the man from Illinois.

    February 21, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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