In the wake of denials by Sen. John McCain of certain claims in The New York Times' bombshell story on his links to a female lobbyist, the paper's Executive Editor Bill Keller released this statement today received by E&P: "On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready.
"'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats.
"This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it." Defenders of McCain have charged that the Times held the story and only released it once he had the GOP nod wrapped up. A McCain aide has claimed that the paper moved after it learned that the New Republic was about to release a story asserting that the paper was debating what to do with the story.
UPDATE: That Gabriel Sherman piece is now up at www.tnr.com. He concludes: "The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable."
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