McCain Camp Knocks N.Y. Times "Gutter Journalism"

The war between the McCain campaign and the New York Times continues.

The campaign is livid about a Times story out today called "Husband's Hopes Fuel Cindy McCain's Journey," deeming it an "unprecedented trash report."

"Under the guise of a 'profile' piece, the New York Times fails to cover any new ground or provide any discernible value to the reader other than to portray Mrs. McCain in the worst possible light," McCain-Palin spokesman Michael Goldfarb said in a statement released Saturday morning. "Though Mrs. McCain's battle with drug addiction and even her miscarriages are again reported, the paper entirely ignores a life devoted to family and charity work in the most impoverished and violent corners of the world -- except when a detail can be quibbled with so as to imply some kind of deceit. This campaign made every effort to share personal accounts of Mrs. McCain's good works with the paper, but apparently they were deemed unfit for publication in the New York Times. This is gutter journalism at its worst -- an unprecedented attack on a presidential candidate's spouse."

Here's a taste of the Times story:

Mrs. McCain, 54, describes herself as her husband's best friend, though for the last two decades they have mostly lived apart, she in Arizona, he in Washington. She seemed like an ideal political partner initially, giving Mr. McCain a home state, money and contacts that jump-started his career. But as the years passed, Mrs. McCain also became a liability at times. She played a role in the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal, and just as her husband was rehabilitating his reputation, she was caught stealing drugs from her nonprofit organization to feed her addiction to painkillers. She has a vast fortune that sets the McCains apart from most other Americans, a problem in a presidential race that hinges on economic anxieties. She can be imprecise: she has repeatedly called herself an only child, for instance, even though she has two half-siblings, and has provided varying details about a 1994 mercy mission to Rwanda.

Those close to Mrs. McCain say she aspires to be like another blonde, glamorous figure married to an older man: Diana, the Princess of Wales. Mrs. McCain sought out the same mine-clearing organization that the princess supported, joining its board and traveling to minefields, just as her role model had. Mrs. McCain recently told British reporters that as first lady, she would take her cues from Diana, throwing herself into international philanthropy.

Along with its statement, the McCain campaign also released what it says is a Facebook message by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor to a 16 year-old schoolmate of John and Cindy McCain's daughter Bridget, "trolling for information on Mrs. McCain," as well as a letter from Johd Dowd, Cindy McCain's attorney, to Times Managing Editor Bill Keller. Both are below.

Facebook message:

I saw on facebook that you went to Xavier, and if you don't mind, I'd love to ask you some advice about a story. I'm a reporter at the New York Times, writing a profile of Cindy McCain, and we are trying to get a sense of what she is like as a mother. So I'm reaching out to fellow parents at her kids' schools. My understanding is that some of her older kids went to Brophy/Xavier, but I'm trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends-- and a few people said it was PCDS. Do you know if that's right? Again, we're not really reporting on the kids, just seeking some fellow parents who can talk about what Mrs. McCain is like.
Also, if you know anyone else who I should talk to-- basically anyone who has encountered Mrs. McCain and might be able to share impressions-- that would be great.

Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

Jodi Kantor
Political correspondent
New York Times

Letter:

Dear Mr. Keller:

I represent Cindy McCain. I write to appeal to your sense of fairness, balance and decency in deciding whether to publish another story about her. I do this well knowing your obvious bias for Barack Obama and your obvios bias hositility to John McCain. I ask you to put your biases and agendas aside.

I understand that Cindy is in the public eye, but you have already profiled her extensively (Jennifer Steinhauer reported), written about her financial situation (including an editorial on her tax returns) and about her role at Hensley and Company.

I am advised that you assigned two of your top investigative reporters who have spent an extensive amount of time in Arizona and around the country investigating Cindy's life including her charity, her addiction and her marriage to Senator McCain. None of these subjects are news.

I am also advised that your reporters are speaking to Tom Gosinski and her cousin Jamie Clark, neither of whom are reliable or credible sources. Mr. Gosinski has been publicly exposed as a liar and blackmailer on the subject of Cindy McCain. Jamie Clark has very serious drug and stability issues and has failed in a number of attempts to blackmail Cindy. She is simply not credible.

In 1994, Mr. Gosinski drafted a civil complaint for damages claiming, among other things, that Cindy had defamed him with prospective employers after he was discharged from AVMT. Those allegations were utterly false. He was unable to produce any prospective employers and Cindy had not discussed his deficiencies as an employee with anyone outside of AVMT. Indeed, his termination was demonstrated to be appropriate and when he was let go, Cindy gave him severance pay. When confronted with this evidence, his lawyer resigned. Gosinski never filed the complaint in Court and could produce no evidence to support any of its allegations. He attempted to have Cindy pay him $250,000 in exchange for not filing the complaint. Cindy refused and made his attempt to extort her public.

Thereafter, he amended his complaint to allege that Cindy asked him to commit perjury in the adoption proceed involving Bridget McCain. The notes of Cindy's counsel and the official transcript of the adoption proceedings clearly demonstrate that Gosinski's was never asked to lie and did not falsely testify in the proceeding. His allegation was an utter fabrication. Gosinski further alleged that Cindy used his name to obtain pain killers for her own personal use. The records of AVMT show that Dr. Max Johnson, licensed by the DEA to order drugs, directed the use of employee names on the prescriptions. The drugs obtained using Mr. Gosinski's name were used and donated on an AVMT trip to El Salvador. They were not used by Cindy.

These allegations and efforts to hurt Cindy have been a matter of public record for sixteen years. Cindy has been quite open and frank about her issues for all these years. Any further attempts to harass and injure her based on the information from Gosinski and Clark will be met with an appropriate response. While she may be in the public eye, she is not public property nor the property of the press to abuse and defame.

It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here.

I suggest to you that none of these subjects on either side are worthy of the energy and resources of The New York Times. They are cruel hit pieces designed to injure people that only the worst rag would investigate and publish. I know you and your colleagues are always preaching about raising the level of civil discourse in our political campaigns. I think taking some your own medicine is in order here.

I ask you to let Cindy McCain carry on in her usual understated, selfless and dignified way. The fabrications and lies of blackmailers are not fit to print in any newspaper but particularly not in The New York Times.

Sincerely,
John M. Dowd
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP