POLITICS
10/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Was For The NYT Before He Was Against It

For a party that rails against the New York Times, the Republicans sure depend on the Grey Lady to score political points.

Since the end of the primary, John McCain's campaign has sent at least 60 emails to its rapid response list that reference the New York Times. They have used the paper to repeatedly knock Obama for voting "present" in the Illinois State Senate. They have used it to defend McCain's record on Jack Abramoff, to accuse Obama of flip-flopping on Iraq, and to bolster the case for vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.

"New York Times: Governor Palin 'Took Intense Criticism From Members Of Her Own Party For Turning The Spotlight On The Failures Of Alaska Republicans,'" read one McCain campaign press release.

Moreover, since July 1, the RNC and the McCain campaign have sent out at least 38 press releases that reference the Times, while, since the end of July, the RNC has sent out at least 65 emails that quote the paper. Three days ago came a Times article with the heading, "Republicans Denounce Obama Fund-Raising Pic." A week before we had, "NYT - Campaign Says Biden Son Dropped Lobbying Clients." A day before that there was, "NYT - Those Awaiting Biden Gaffes Aren't Disappointed." And two days before then, the RNC emailed, "NYT - Obama Looks to Lessons From Chicago in His National Education Plan."

On Monday, however, aides to McCain needed a scapegoat, or at least a political whipping post. And so, when asked about an article from this morning, which illuminated the lobbying work campaign manager Rick Davis has done on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, senior strategist Steve Schmidt absolutely unloaded on the Times.

"Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization," he said. "It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Gov. Palin and excuses Sen. Obama.... This is an organization that is completely and totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate."

Right. Keep in mind that it was just yesterday that McCain himself told CNBC that he welcomed the vetting of Davis "by anybody who wants to look at it."

Or, as Barack Obama's campaign quickly noted, that the Times has run more than 40 stories on his childhood, politics, time in the state senate, religion, family and friends.

Moreover, within hours of Schmidt ripping the paper, the Republican National Committee sent out an email to reporters that actually referenced an article that ran in the Times, highlighting the work of vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden's son.

For its part, the Times senior staff seem unaffected by Schmidt's attempt to tar their coverage. In a statement to Politico, executive editor Bill Keller wrote:

"The New York Times is committed to covering the candidates fully, fairly and aggressively. It's our job to ask hard questions, fact-check their statements and their advertising, examine their programs, positions, biographies and advisors. Candidates and their campaign operatives are not always comfortable with that level of scrutiny, but it's what our readers expect and deserve."