McCain camp singles out Times in non-denial of Freddie Mac influence
Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday September 24, 2008

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When you can't deny the message, attack the messenger.

It seems this is becoming the daily mantra around the suburban DC offices of a certain presidential candidate.

John McCain's campaign is keeping up its vituperative, vindictive, vicious assault on the New York Times for reporting on the financial largess embattled mortgage lender Freddie Mac has bestowed on the Republican presidential candidate's campaign manager.

Oddly, in it's latest assault, the McCain campaign does not deny the basic charges at hand all the while singling out the "Paper of Record," for reporting a story that also appeared in at least four separate news outlets.

The Times article at issue Wednesday reported that Freddie Mac had been paying $15,000 per month to the consulting firm owned by Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, from 2005 until last month. In exchange for the payments, Freddie Mac apparently expected little from Davis other than his continued place in McCain's inner circle.

News of the payments also appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Post and Roll Call Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, but it was the Times McCain's campaign singled out.

"Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization," begins a lengthy memo issued by the McCain campaign.

Coming in at just over a thousand words, the McCain memo is nearly as long as the Times article it is slamming. In all that space though, the campaign does not once deny the meat of the story -- that Davis's firm, Davis Manafort, received $15,000 per month for much of the last three years. The memo does deny charges the Times does not make, accuse the paper of a "willful disregard of the truth," and paint McCain as a supporter of reforming Freddie Mac.

"Let us be clear about what this story alleges: The New York Times charges that McCain-Palin 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis was paid by Freddie Mac until last month," the memo says.

In fact, that charge appears nowhere in the Times article. Reporters Jackie Calmes and David D. Kirkpatrick do report the payments to "a firm owned by" Davis, and they even note that Davis himself has taken a leave of absence from the firm during the campaign and has stopped receiving a salary from it. They do note that "as an equity holder [Davis] continues to benefit from its income."

The McCain campaign's memo reiterates Davis's lack of a salary from his firm.

"Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual since 2006," the memo stresses. "Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006."

The memo goes on to stress that Davis "has never -- never -- been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac," refuting another charge that does not appear in the Times report.

It goes on to accuse the Times of partisanship and compare it to more strictly ideological outlets.

We all understand that partisan attacks are part of the political process in this country. The debate that stems from these grand and sometimes unruly conversations is what makes this country so exceptional. Indeed, our nation has a long and proud tradition of news organizations that are ideological and partisan in nature, the Huffington Post and the New York Times being two such publications. We celebrate their contribution to the political fabric of America. But while the Huffington Post is utterly transparent, the New York Times obscures its true intentions to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama under the cloak of objective journalism.
While bashing the New York Times has been a hobby of conservatives for years, the McCain campaign seems to have turned it into an art form. After a separate Times report earlier this week that began to expose Davis's advocacy efforts on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, McCain strategist Steve Schmidt, who learned his craft from Karl Rove, pronounced the paper "not by any standard a journalistic organization."

The two mortgage lending giants relied on Davis's expertise to maintain their position as having inherent government backing, which allowed them to pursue risky loans that have contributed to the current financial meltdown.

The companies have courted Democrats and Republicans in their extensive lobbying efforts, and McCain's campaign attacked Obama last week for his own ties to the organization, including previously being advised by Jim Johnson, Fannie Mae's former CEO. Obama also has received more than $126,000 in donations from company employees, compared to about $22,000 to McCain, the Times reported.