Why did the New York Times do it? It’s a shoddy piece of journalism; there’s no argument on that point. So why?
My hunch is that this is “battlefield preparation.” The NYT wants to establish the story line that John McCain is a womanizer. Subsequent reports from news outlets even less scrupulous (The New Republic and Mad Magazine are the only ones that come to mind) will pile on with other even more thinly sourced stories of romantic and ethical entanglements.
Perhaps the thinking is that the time to attack is now, before McCain has consolidated his base–especially now while Mike Huckabee is still capturing a significant percentage of the Evangelical vote in spite of overwhelming evidence that John McCain is the GOP nominee.
Make no mistake, the New York Times has clearly demonstrated which side it is on. Facts be damned; this is an election and they are proudly partisan Democrats who have an election to win. (Aside: His Republican opponents must now be laughing themselves silly over the Grey Lady’s support for McCain. This is why Republicans do not seek and do not accept the NYT’s endorsement.)
However, there’s a danger for the New York Times. As Mary Katherine Ham wondered:
What’s the Quickest Way to Rally Conservatives ‘Round McCain?
In trying to prep the battlefield the New York Times may have just called in fire on its own position.
K-Lo brings us anecdotal evidence from an emailer of Ham’s prediction:
. . . the Hit Piece by the NY Times prompted me to scurry over to McCain’s website, buy a few window stickers and donate $200.00.
Here’s a bit of double-reverse logic for you: Maybe this is an example of how the New York Times is actually in McCain’s camp. They know that the only way to bring conservatives back to McCain is to attack him. It’s kind of like how Rush Limbaugh says that his assaults on McCain are his “most valuable asset” in attracting independents.
The Politico reports that the New York Times has in one day accomplished what John McCain himself hasn’t been able to accomplish these past eight years: rally conservatives to his camp.