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. Patti

    Hillary Clinton has accused Barak Obama of "stealing" words in his speeches.
    Clinton is always saying that she is "Ready on Day One"

    This was Eliot Spitzer's mantra when he ran for governor over a year ago.

    February 21, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. 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 letch than Bill Clinton, and that is saying a lot. Big Bill got himself in big trouble poking around. Let's see if McCain can avoid big trouble.

    February 21, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. ohiojeanie

    All I want to know is: WHERE WAS THE MEDIA DURING THE 2000 PRIMARY? Why were you so afraid to dig up any negatives in GWB's background when you had a plethora to choose from? The media elects our leaders now, with every word spoken, written, and OMITTED.

    February 21, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Shannon McMurphy

    Hmmm. Cnn is saying something about John McCain and a woman? Ok, this is a joke already. You've stopped talking for 3 seconds about the witch and the King. So what is this??

    Ok I GET IT. You are now going to pretend you care about the Republican campaign and what some moron at the New York Times says about McCain. Gotcha.

    Ok, now go back to Obama glorifying and Clinton demonizing, so I can recognize you.

    February 21, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Griffith D.

    You see? This is all politics of the past! The washington of old! In the new Washington, after the Barack Obama movement, we will work across party lines and there will be no divisiveness. Republicans will vote with Obama's Democrats where they disagreed before – they will now finally support gay marriage, abortion rights, stem cell research, tax hikes for rich people and companies, ending the war in iraq, reforming immigration, ending faith-based funding, ending the death penalty, having strict gun control, encouraging affirmative action, having sweeping environmental reforms to head off global warming (which by the way, they will now agree exists), and they will read up on evolution and agree its ok to teach in school .... the problem with the washington of old was that no one could inspire people. But now that we can inspire people, Republicans will change their entire platform and join us. We are changing Washington. No more divisive politics. We will all work together and be hopeful together. Make sense?

    February 21, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. MR

    Has anyone notice the simalarities in appearance this Vicki woman has to Mccain’s wife. I believe this man was very attracted to this woman look at his wife; the two favor each other perhaps just a younger version
    I’M so sick of my hard earn money, tax money, going towards clearing up the mess of dirty, and horny politicans. It just the same old thing, all over again. American are sick and tired. Does anyone believe in marriage ? Does anyone believe in not mixing business with pleasure ?
    Don’t think for once that the New York Times would published this if they didn’t have a story. They are simply protecting those who came forth in return for the story. The New York Times is the one of the best if not the best paper ever……. MCCAIN IS GUILTY…..

    Republicans wake up do not vote for this man. Mccain will costs you way more than you’ve bargained for……….. DON’T VOTE FOR MCCAIN ! !

    February 21, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. Mark Tully

    The amount of air time you're giving this issue is obnoxious. You're making fools out of yourselves. It's a simple story with clear, obvious lines. Get over it and report some news.

    February 21, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Yes, the NY Times endorsed McCain. And the evidence given by many reporters is that they knew a hit piece on McCain was being worked on during the very time the TIMES was endorsing McCain.There is something that smells like a rotting corpse here-and the corpse is that of the Grey Lady.

    February 21, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. sue

    I'm not a McCain supporter I feel that this is so unfair and by the NYT to print this story and Obama has a Civil Suit filed in Minnesota District Court by Larry Sinclair no mention of the case by NYT or any news media.

    February 21, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  10. kathleen, illinois

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    February 21, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  11. Jim


    Wow, it's like that TV show, "Big Brother"! The one with the hidden cameras that watch your every move! This is better than cable! Oh, wait . . .

    February 21, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. M Tiedemann

    As a registered democrat and self proclaimed liberal i am appalled by both the story about McCain and the medias handling of it...

    Unfortunately all that is left is "sensationalism"... Please Look at the "facts" of the story and not the innuendos.

    The republicans, the "right wing", and every US Citizen should be appalled....

    To quote David "We need change from Corporate Government to Government for the people! Like it USED TO BE in this country"

    Anyone that has the time to know the facts and character of John McCain can't help but be impressed, no matter which side of the aisle you are on!!

    It is time for the media to stop with the sensational headlines.!!!!

    February 21, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  13. Miami

    The American people will start saying, "Thats ok, no one is perfect". Thats pathetic, we have become so use to bad politicians lying to us and making false promises just so they can have their turn in the big seat. When is this S–T going to stop. I agree with you David, the government needs to be for the people. Hey, if McCain wins, lets guess how rich he's gonna get like Bush and Cheney have. We all have our little ghost in the closet but if your gonna stand up their and say how America needs to change and your the man to do it then swish back and forth about taxes, no, never raise, yes maybe a little, I never in hailed, I really did serve, reserves for two weeks, CHANGES, I was with congress for two years but I worked in allot of inner cities, white water prove it.

    My babble is just like congress.
    I rest my case

    February 21, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. R. A. Seaborn

    I applaud the NYT for publishing this article. I hope they have added a few staffers to find more stuff. This is exactly what the American people need to see and hear. As they need to know exactly who is running for the Presidency. Too many times we forget the lost stories. McCain has been an elected official and because he has been around awhile he knows he must "pretend" to be offended. Come on people this is more of the same ol same ol. Even when a politician is caught Red Handed and IN The Act as the case of Senator Craig oh whats his name, they call foul. They rarely jump up and take full responsiblity for their actions. Responsiblity and Accountability. Lets ask Congress what those words really mean?Wake Up America its time to take One Huge STEP into the Future!

    February 21, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  15. HCheng

    The journalistic community shouldn't let up. They owe the American people this. Let's get to the bottom of this.

    Just because McCain denies it doesn't mean there is no truth to the story. And less so when his reaction is so swift and vicious.

    Fact is McCain did fly multiple times on the corporate jet of Paxson, one of Eisman's clients. Fine, just some convenience. And no advantage to Paxson by borrowing their jet for a few hours.

    But what about pushing the FCC as the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee for an expedited review of a Paxson TV station deal, naming Paxson specifically in two letters. Then chairman of FCC considered such a move "highly inappropriate".

    BTW. Don't blame it on Obama. NYT endorses HRC. NYT started working on this story last year way before the primary season.

    February 21, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  16. Byron Goodgame

    Comparing watergate to this is funny Wolf, the idea that sources weren't used in some of the reports was at that time something that wasn't the norm, and frowned upon by those in the industry. And just as liable.

    February 21, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  17. Alecki

    Dear Mr. Blitzer,

    I have decided that you are tolerable to listen to. The difference is that you cover a story and Jack doesn't. I must start with that statement.

    This story about McCain will not go away as quickly as he would like it to. He will always have this story attached to him. Forever.

    February 21, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. Jerry in cherry hill

    In this great election year, finally Mothers and Fathers all across America can turn to their children and say, "see honey, you could be anything you want to be" and really mean it. With an African American, a Woman, and an American War Hero all having tremendous support, it gives great hope to almost every segment of our society. Race doesn't matter, gender doesn't matter, all that matters is that your work hard and serve your country and you can go as far as anyone. Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain have all served their country well and deserve our respect and admiration.

    For the NYT to tarnish a man's good name with gossip and innuendo is a terrible thing and I think the New York Times should be ashamed.

    February 21, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Ruby Coria, CA.

    Wolf, yes the story has legs, but what other choice do the republicans have? RON PAUL would be nice, so who else do they have? The always faithful maybe not so much, depending on where those legs where pointing..

    February 21, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. Robert

    It would be interesting if John McCain and the New York Times planned this. After all, the New York Times endorsed John McCain and they both would benefit from this. The New York Times by selling a lot of papers and John McCain by drumming up votes. Digging up your own selected dirt to be displayed as you wish? This may be ethical but is it illegal?

    February 21, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  21. Moe, NY

    Long live freedom of the press...without it...there goes American's right to know exactly what is going on in our country...we certainly cannot count on the politicans/government to give us an honest answer regarding just about everything. A liberal newspaper is just fine with me, the only newspaper/media I take offense at is one that will not/refuses to print the truth due to politics.

    February 21, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  22. bond

    There are no angels in politics. Where there's smoke, there's usually fire...

    February 21, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  23. Robert

    It would be interesting if John McCain and the New York Times planned this. After all, the New York Times endorsed John McCain and they both would benefit from this. The New York Times by selling a lot of papers and John McCain by drumming up votes. Digging up your own selected dirt to be displayed as you wish? This may be unethical but is it illegal?

    February 21, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  24. Dana in Arizona

    And this is more important to the media than so many other issues including world terror and a faltering U.U economy. Is this ratings week?

    February 21, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Bob

    What's the real problem here? Spell it out or move on.

    February 21, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
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