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Boston Globe declines to publish parent paper's McCain story

February 22, 2008 |  7:22 am

The Los Angeles Times' James Rainey this morning has a comprehensive examination of the unfolding controversy over an investigative article published in Thursday's New York Times regarding Sen. John McCain and his relationship with a Washington lobbyist and her clients.

The article, among other things, used anonymous sources to suggest as early as the second paragraph inappropriate behavior between the married senator and the female lobbyist. Not surprisingly, it was denounced by McCain, his ...

... campaign and other conservatives as a smear job just as the Arizona senator becomes the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee.

It also aroused considerable criticism from readers of The Ticket, which opened a special comment page on the issue, and even in private communications among fellow journalists across the country, who often rush to defend one another. "I wouldn't put my name on it," one colleague messaged.

But one interesting aspect of this combined political and professional controversy went widely unnoticed. The Boston Globe, which is wholly owned by the New York Times, chose not to publish the article produced by its parent company's reporters.

Instead, the Globe published a version of the same story written by the competing Washington Post staff. That version focused almost exclusively on the pervasive presence of lobbyists in McCain's campaign and did not mention the sexual relationship that the Times article hinted at but did not describe or document and which the senator and lobbyist have denied.

On Thursday the Globe's website, Boston.com, did provide a link to the Times story on the Times' website. But such a stark editorial decision by a major newspaper raises suspicions that even the Globe's editors, New York Times Co. employees all, had their own concerns about the content of their parent company's story.

Rainey asked the Globe's editor, Martin Baron, about that decision. His eloquent reply: "No comment."

When journalists hear such rhetorical avoidance from public figures and politicians, they usually take it as confirmation of their suspicions.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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