With Friends Like The New York Times, Who Need Enemas?

My, how fickle the Gray Lady can be.

A little over a month ago, the New York Times endorsed John McCain for president. Of course, the primary reasons they gave for that boiled down to “he’s not George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or Mike Huckabee,” but it was an endorsement nonetheless.

Now, barely a month later, they drop the bomb on their guy: he had an affair with a lobbyist.

Well, that’s how it’s being played out. The actual allegation: a couple of disgruntled former low-level staffers were concerned that McCain might be appearing to be too friendly with a certain female lobbyist, and warned him to cool things before people started suspecting there was something improper going on.

No admission from McCain.

No admission from the lobbyist.

No confirmation from a source willing to go on the record.

No actual accusation from even their unnamed sources.

Actual denials from staffers who say that the details of the allegations simply don’t make any sense.

In fact, there’s one McCain former staffer who notes that the New York Times’ story might be based not on the word of former McCain staffers, but other lobbyists.

So, what does the Paper Of Record’s story boil down to:

About the same level of credibility as the rumors that John Edwards had knocked up a filmmaker or Hillary Clinton’s having an affair with her (female and Muslim) top aide.

But remember the double standard: if the accusation is against Democrats, they never claim to be the “party of morality and family values,” so it really doesn’t count. But if it’s a Republican, then there’s the whole “hypocrisy” angle that adds about 70% to the weight of the accusation, and scurrilous rumor, unfounded gossip, and sources who won’t go on the record with even vague accusations merit publication.

For all I know, McCain was boinking this lobbyist every night and twice on Sunday. Or not. One certainly can’t make any judgments based solely on the New York Times’ account — it’s absolutely vacant of actual facts.

But somehow it was worthy of publishing in the Paper Of Record, and it certainly qualifies as “All The News That’s Fit To Print.”

If only there was a way for the American people to sue the New York Times for malpractice.

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