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There’s been a lot of speculation in the media and in the blogosphere about the origins of the New York Times story on Senator John McCain’s murky relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. According to a piece published today in The New Republic, “The McCain investigation began in November,” when Jim Rutenberg, a Times reporter, “got a tip.” What hasn’t been reported, though, is that long before the Times published its account a competing publication spent extensive time trying to track down the nature of the relationship but decided against publishing a story.
Several sources told me that Edward Pound, one of the best investigative journalists in the business, was the first reporter to look into McCain’s potential involvement with Iseman. Pound, now at National Journal, was at U.S. News & World Report in early 2007 when he began work on a story about McCain’s record in Congress.
Pound’s detailed story, which ran in the May 20, 2007 issue said that despite positioning himself “as a die-hard opponent of special-interest influence,” McCain had been “an avid seeker of special-interest money to support his campaigns and initiatives” throughout his 25-year career in Congress. “The pattern goes all the way back to his first House race in 1982,” the magazine reported. “Moreover, as the boss or No. 2 member of the Senate Commerce Committee, he has drawn heavy support from PACs and individuals associated with industries overseen by that committee—especially telecommunications, media, and technology firms.”
Pound, I’m told, spent months working on the story and heard allegations that McCain and Iseman were romantically involved. I called Pound to ask about this and he preferred not to discuss it other than to say, “As part of a story on McCain’s ties to lobbyists and special interests, I looked into McCain’s relationship with Vicki Iseman. In the end I decided not to include that in the story.”
So how did the story get to the Times some months later? I’m not sure, but the fact that Pound had started looking into the matter as far back as early last year suggests two things: First, that the origin of the Times’s piece was not a plant by one of McCain’s presidential opponents, even if some of them became aware that the Times was working on the story, and second, that firm evidence of a romance would have been very hard to come by.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”