Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind

NYT reporter takes a dive

That sound you just heard is another big-name political reporter rolling over for fear of creating a scene. MSNBC’s “First Read” reported today on a back and forth between the New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller and Senator John McCain, concerning an alleged conversation McCain had in 2004 about running as vice president on John Kerry’s presidential ticket.

McCain has always denied that such a conversation took place, but on a campaign stop this morning, pressed by a voter if he would consider Kerry as his veep in this election cycle, McCain changed his story. He said that he wouldn’t consider Kerry as his running mate because Kerry is “a liberal Democrat… I am a conservative Republican. When we had that conversation in 2004, that’s why I never even considered such a thing.”

Bumiller picked up on the contradiction, and when she asked McCain about it later, the presidential candidate got a little testy. The end of the brief back and forth went like this:

Bumiller: Can you describe the conversation?

McCain: No, of course not. I don’t describe private conversations.

Bumiller: Okay. Can I ask you…”

McCain: Why should I? Then there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Is there (inaudible) if you have a private conversation with someone, and then they come and tell you. I don’t know that that’s a private conversation. I think that’s a public conversation.

Bumiller: Okay. Can I ask you about your … why you’re so angry?

McCain: Pardon me?

Bumiller: Nevermind, nevermind.

McCain: I mean, it’s well known. Everybody knows. It’s been well chronicled a thousand times. John Kerry asked if I would consider being his running mate.

Bumiller: Okay.

Way to hold the powerful to account for changing the story, Elisabeth! On second thought, nevermind, nevermind.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.