Fraudulent, sensationalistic headline in Times of London

How’s this for sleazy journalism—and from the high-toned London Times. The headline reads:

John McCain’s denials start to unravel in tale of the blonde lobbyist
The Republican saviour is looking rattled after claims of a sex for favours scandal

Well, that’s enough to get your average red-blooded reader interested, right? Especially someone like me who would hope for anything—anything—to derail the disastrous and ruinous McCain nomination.

In fact, the headline is deeply misleading. The unraveling denial it refers to has nothing to do with the supposed romantic relationship between McCain and the lobbyist Vicki Iseman. The reporter, Sarah Baxter, after quoting David Brooks’s warning last week that “If it turns out that there is evidence of an affair and a meeting, then [McCain’s] presidential hopes will be over,” specifically states that “so far nothing has surfaced” to throw into doubt McCain’s categorical denial of an affair. Baxter then continues:

But McCain made other claims that are unravelling this weekend concerning a meeting with Lowell “Bud” Paxson, then head of Paxson Communications and a main McCain donor. [LA comments: At this point I instantly lost interest as I saw the story was not about what the headline said it was about.]

The company was a client of Iseman seeking to buy a television station in Pittsburgh, but had been stalled by the FCC.

McCain insisted last week that he did not meet Paxson or Iseman before sending two letters to the FCC urging their help.

But Newsweek revealed that McCain gave a sworn deposition in a lawsuit in 2002 contradicting this assertion.

“I was contacted by Mr Paxson on this issue,” McCain noted at the time. “He wanted their approval very bad for the purposes of his business. I believe that Mr Paxson had a legitimate complaint.” He went on to declare: “I’m sure I spoke to [Paxson]” and admitted that the letters he wrote on his behalf could possibly have the “appearance of corruption”.

That’s it. That’s the “unravelling denial” trumpeted with blatant dishonesty in the headline. It is on another issue, having nothing to do with the claimed and denied romantic relationship with Iseman.

The Times would undoubtedly reply that the headline is not dishonest, because Paxson was a client of Iseman’s, and therefore the interactions between McCain and Paxson still had something to do with “the tale of the blonde lobbyist.” In reality, anyone reading that headline would think that the unraveling denial is the denial of an affair. The undeniable intent of the headline writer was to make readers believe something that was not true.

Shame on the Times.

- end of initial entry -

I sent a brief version of this entry to the Times of London and they did not post it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 24, 2008 05:49 PM | Send

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