COLLATERAL: Why The Telecom Lobby Prefers Blondes

NEW YORK TIMES: Senator John McCain said Thursday that an article in The New York Times about his close ties to a woman lobbyist was untrue, that he had no romantic relationship with the lobbyist and that he had no confrontations in 1999 with worried staff members who told him to stay away from her. Mr. McCain also said he knew nothing about confrontations that the newspaper described between Mr. McCain and staff members who were worried that the senator’s relationship with Ms. Iseman would jeopardize his career. “I don’t know if it happened at their level, it certainly didn’t happen to me,” Mr. McCain said. Later in the day, one of Mr. McCain’s senior advisers leveled harsh criticism at The New York Times in what appeared to be a deliberate campaign strategy to wage a war with the newspaper. Mr. McCain is deeply distrusted by conservatives on a number of issues, not least because of his rapport with the news media, but he could find common ground with them in attacking a newspaper that many conservatives revile as a left-wing publication. “It was something that you would see in the National Enquirer, not in The New York Times,” said Steve Schmidt, a former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney who is now a top campaign adviser to Mr. McCain.

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