Kurtz: Times “Not Even Close” To Proving McCain Affair

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he spent a great deal of time discussing the New York Times’ article on John McCain, as well as Hillary Clinton’s change of tone and the Federal Shield Law for journalists. Some excerpts:

    Albany, N.Y.: Isn’t the real problem with the Times’s story that they didn’t share with the reader the evidence that convinced McCain’s staffers that the relationship was sexual? There has to be a reason … the implication of the story is that the answer is that they were spending way to much time together. That’s a pretty thin thread to hang the story on, but the Times had an obligation to tell the readers what the reason was, even if that is all there was. The way the story reads, it’s the Times implying there was a relationship, rather than the staffers.

    Howard Kurtz: Well, I don’t know if there’s a behind-the-scenes reason or not. I don’t know whether the Times had more than the editors felt they were able to print. But it’s irrelevant. Any news story has to be judged by the material presented to readers or viewers. It has to be able to stand on its own. And based on what was published, the Times simply didn’t have any evidence that McCain had an affair. Not even close. The suspicions and suppositions of former aides are not enough.

    Bremerton, Wash.: Good Piece on the New York Times-McCain story this week. The media this morning is noting Hillary Clinton going from diplomatic during the debate on Thusday to angry on Saturday to sarcastic on Sunday. I can just see Rush and Bill O’Reilly writing PMS jokes now. Doesn’t her campaign have a media advisor to tell the others just how bad the Jeckyll and Hyde thing looks on the news?

    Howard Kurtz: Well, there’s nothing wrong with Clinton aggressively going after Obama, even if they had a relatively friendly debate days earlier. Campaigns ain’t beanbag. I do wish more media outlets had noted that the Obama fliers that triggered Hillary’s anger had been circulating for weeks, and her staff has complained about them, so this was not some shocking new attack that triggered her angry rhetoric against her rival.

    Arlington, Va.: Judy Miller recently penned an op-ed arguing that Congress needs to pass a federal shield law for journalists. Do you know the prospects of this bill being passed into law? How does the bill define who is a journalist and is protected? Why should we think that journalists would obey this law and reveal their sources in court when they routinely disobey court orders under current law (and then get to spend time in jail, like Ms. Miller)?

    Howard Kurtz: The idea behind the bill is that journalists in most cases — there are some exceptions — would not be put in the position of having to reveal their sources or face a contempt of court charge. The chances of Congress passing the bill are not considered good.