Lobbyist drops suit over Times story suggesting McCain affair
Last year, when the New York Times published a story which carried the concerns of Sen. John McCain's aides over his relationship with a female lobbyist, the Senator strongly objected, calling suggestions that he'd had an extra-marital affair "not true."
However, the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, filed a $27 million defamation suit against the paper. On Thursday, that suit was dropped without settlement from the paper or alteration to the report: A victory for the New York Times and the story's authors.
"Vicki Iseman has dropped her lawsuit against The Times, just weeks after it was filed," wrote Times Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet in a memo to staff. "We paid no money. We did not apologize. We did not retract one word of the story, which was a compelling chapter in the tale of Senator John McCain and his political rise."
The story alleged some of Sen. McCain's aides were "convinced the relationship had become romantic . . . and intervened to protect the candidate from himself."
"The story stands as a powerful examination of a presidential candidate who cast himself as an ethics reformer and scourge of special interests, yet seemed blind at times over the course of his career to appearances of conflicts of interest," continued Baquet.
"The article was the result of deep reporting, dozens of interviews and an abundance of caution. I am as proud now of the work of the reporters -- David Kirkpatrick, Jim Rutenberg, Stephen Labaton, and Marilyn Thompson -- as I was the day it ran."
All Iseman got out of the legal affair was a chance for her lawyers to invoke Shakespeare in defense of their client.
"Words have extraordinary power to wreak havoc on the life of a human being. Shakespeare, writing in Othello that 'Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls' marked this essential link between our reputation and our humanity," they wrote on The Times' Web site. "United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, writing centuries later, asserted this same fundamental truth when he wrote that the individual's right to protection of his or her good name 'reflects no more than our basic concept of the essential dignity and worth of every human being—a concept at the root of any decent system of ordered liberty.'"
"We stand by our coverage, and we are proud of it," wrote Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in a published response to Iseman's lawyers. "The McCain campaign and some of its supporters set out aggressively to portray the article in question as a story about an unsubstantiated affair. But it was not that, either explicitly or implicitly."
New York Magazine called the whole ordeal a "fustercluck," and captioned a photo of Iseman, "We're beginning to really hate this lady."
The Times said it would publish a note to readers about the Iseman suit in Friday's edition.
|Get Raw exclusives as they break -- Email & mobile