Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dumpster diving

The New York Times and the Washington Post each have stories this morning regarding a female lobbyist's access to Sen. John McCain in the run-up to his 2000 Presidential Campaign.

The Times story is premised in terms of Sen. McCain being so sure of his ethics that he sometimes overlooks the appearance of impropriety. The paper takes this as its license to rehash the 1999 events, the Senator's role in the Keating Five scandal, and a few other ethical lapses.

The WaPost article just digs straight into the dirt, focusing on the lobbyist's interactions with Sen. McCain and his staff's efforts to intercede.

While both stories are breathlessly reported, they cover events that occurred nearly a decade ago. Also, although it may have receded from people's memories, the influence angle was extensively reported back in 2000. So, the only "news" is the personal relationship with the lobbyist.

These are trashy and moldly stories that contribute virtually nothing to people's understanding of the issues in the current campaign. There are many more recent and relevant issues to explore, such as the evolution of Sen. McCain's positions over the decade and the sweetheart loan deal that kept his campaign afloat.

The Times and Post can do better.