ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- New York Times'
executive editor Bill Keller continues to defend the paper's
unsubstantiated gossip alleging an improper sexual relationship
between Senator John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman - even
claiming that "no one has challenged what we actually reported,"
despite clear denials from McCain, Iseman and three top campaign
Keller repeatedly admitted in a National Public Radio interview that he and the Times had no facts and no story. As for the alleged affair, "If, hypothetically, we had established that he had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist - and had done favors for that lobbyist - that would have been a different story." As to the possible conflict of interest, "We don't know if there was a quid or a quo in this case."
Just last November, Keller laughingly offered, "[W]e are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion. We do not manipulate or hide facts to advance an agenda. We strive to preserve our independence from political and economic interests, including our own advertisers. We do not work in the service of a party, or an industry, or even a country. When there are competing views of a situation, we aim to reflect them as clearly and fairly as we can."
Brent Bozell today issued the following statement:
"The New York Times' reputation is now in shambles, and may be unrecoverable. The paper has for years engaged in irresponsible reporting - but this fiasco may have removed any remaining doubt as to whether it can be trusted to report the facts. It appears it can not.
"Executive Editor Bill Keller continues to shamelessly defend its delivery of rumor and gossip, fit to print only for the likes of the National Enquirer.
"The only hope of beginning to rebuild the Times' reputation is to replace the man in charge of this mess. The New York Times should fire Bill Keller."
To schedule an interview with MRC President Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson,
please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen O'Boyle (x. 122) at (703) 683-5004.