Anatomy of a smear

Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei purport to explain why conservatives did not look kindly on the New York Times’s report that someone thought John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a pretty blonde lobbyist ten years ago:

Conservative leaders often portray their political mission in moralistic terms: right vs. wrong. But their reaction to a news report that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might have had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist shows the activist right is often animated by a different impulse: us against them.

Given the fact that the “romantic” element of the story was one which the Times’s public editor himself found indefensible, Allen and VandeHei’s thesis is remarkably lame. This is all they have to say about the story’s patent flaws:

[The] Times made it easier for those who wanted to justify, rationalize or defend McCain


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