What the New York Times Should Have Said
Here's a pretty good rundown
Sunday, the paper’s “public editor,” Clark Hoyt, weighed in on the controversy. I say “weighed” but his tread was positively catlike. Another missed opportunity, I suppose. But let me help. Here’s what the paper’s public editor didn’t say, but should have: “Get a grip! The function of the Times is not to print ‘news.’ It’s to provide like-minded readers with a comforting view of the world.”Howard Kurtz
Leave aside the uninformed charges that the story was politically timed. Forget for a moment that the key sources were granted anonymity. What, in the end, did the paper have? "Disillusioned" former McCain aides who say they were worried that their boss appeared too close to a lobbyist and tried to shoo her away. Details about letters to federal regulators that were mostly old news. And, of course, the suggestion of sex, the rocket fuel that boosted the story into the media stratosphere.
In online comments Friday, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller seemed taken aback by "the volume of the reaction" and "by how lopsided the opinion was against our decision, with readers who described themselves as independents and Democrats joining Republicans in defending Mr. McCain from what they saw as a cheap shot. And, frankly, I was a little surprised by how few readers saw what was, to us, the larger point of the story."
As Kurtz notes, the sex was the sizzle; if they didn't want readers to focus on it, it should not have been included.