The Times in campaign mode

Tomorrow the New York Times is running a big story by Eric Lipton on the “ties” of corporate lobbyists to House Minority Leader John Boehner. Insert yawn.
On a slightly more lively note, the story also alleges that an unnamed lobbyist secured — strike that and stop the presses, “sought” — Boehner’s vote on key issues. Boehner press secretary Michael Steel has sent out an alert regarding the story. Steel writes:

For the past week, flailing Washington Democrats led by President Obama have attacked House Republican Leader John Boehner, distorting his positions for partisan gain. Now, emails between a Boehner staffer and a New York Times reporter prove that Speaker Pelosi and President Obama’s leading ally in the media chose to ignore the facts in order to launch a new attack.
A story posted on The Times webpage today about Boehner, which will run in the newspaper tomorrow, quotes an anonymous Washington lobbyist who, ” … ticked off the list of recent issues for which he had won* the lawmaker’s backing: combating fee increases for the oil industry, fighting a proposed cap on debit card fees, protecting tax breaks for hedge fund executives and opposing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.”
In fact, Boehner’s positions on these issues are long-held and the result of his belief in free enterprise and smaller government – as a Boehner aide (me) offered to explain to the reporter via email last night. The reporter ignored the offer – preferring to post spurious (and stupid) allegations from an anonymous lobbyist. (Seriously, who would believe that the leading Republican in the House opposes a ‘cap-n-trade’ national energy tax because of one lobbyists’ influence? Only the New York Time could be that dumb – or that willing to advance President Obama and Speaker Pelosi’s agenda.)
*the word “won” was later changed to “sought,” in response to our office’s objections.

In Steel’s email exchange with Lipton, Steel offered to explain the rationale for Boehner’s positions on the cited issues. Lipton did not take up the offer.
The White House and its allies have elevated Boehner to the status of a target in the run-up to the November elections. On its face there isn’t much to Lipton’s story about Boehner. More than anything else it signifies that the Times is playing its traditional role as media adjunct of the Democratic Party. To use the Washington cliché, it’s business as usual.
UPDATE: Before the pixels had dried on this post Steel alerted us to Byron York’s Washington Examiner report “Boehner fights back: New York Times story is ‘hatchet job.'” York writes: “To call Boehner’s aides angry at the account would be an understatement.” York quotes Steel: “They [the Times] were offered the opportunity to find out if this was true, and they chose to rely instead on the word of an anonymous lobbyist. They intentionally refused to get the information to prove that this allegation was false.”

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