Times Whines McCain Won't Let It In to Campaign Event

By "tightly controlled group of reporters," the Times means "not us." And did the Times threaten the McCain campaign with negative coverage if it wasn't allowed in to see McCain's medical records?

John McCain is set to release some medical records on Friday, but the Times set a negative tone a day early in a strange pre-announcement story by Elisabeth Bumiller and Lawrence Altman, "McCain Set To Release Health Data On Friday." The Times cynically emphasized the timing of the McCain release, before a major U.S. holiday weekend. And there's evidence the paper may be holding a grudge becausethe McCain campaign didn't give the Timescredentialsto cover the campaign event.

Senator John McCain is set to release 400 pages of medical records, including documents related to his melanoma surgery in August 2000, to a tightly controlled group of reporters on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

Mr. McCain said late last week that he had nothing to hide. Campaign officials have nonetheless said that even if nothing in the records suggests a problem with his health, a rush of news media reports focusing on the cancer surgery was not politically helpful and that they wanted to play down the information as much as possible - something that the timing of the release would seem to accomplish.

By "tightly controlled group of reporters," the Times apparently means "not us." The Times actually listed all the news organizations to be in the room, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, AP, Reuters and The Washington Post (nudging its readership to notice that the Times was missing). That "tightly controlled" group covers a huge swathe of major U.S. media.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air has a claim from the McCain campaign aboutan allegedattempt by the Times to gain access by leveraging the threat of negative coverage (emphasis Morrissey's):

It's no secret that the McCain campaign believes the Times to be dishonest in its reporting on the candidate, and they decided not to extend an invitation to the Times for the media pool at the release of the medical records on Friday. According to my source close to the part of the campaign that deals with these issues, they have invited a variety of media outlets, including national-reach newspapers, wire services, and cable-news networks into the pool, but told the Times that they would not receive any credentials for the event.

This prompted a conversation between one Times editor and the campaign staff. Again according to the source, the editor told the campaign that the Times would take a negative view about the release of the records if an invitation was not forthcoming. It was clear that an invitation to the pool would change the nature of the coverage .

That sounds a lot like extortion, doesn't it? Is that acceptable practice for the American mainstream media? This kind of hostility calls into question their motivation for all of their past articles and stories. Did the McCain campaign do something to annoy the editors in February and March while all of these hit pieces got trotted out?