Strike Three For The Times: Self-Inflicted Scars

posted at 6:45 am on March 10, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The New York Times has kept itself busy since it endorsed John McCain in the run-up to the February 5th Super Tuesday primaries. Over the last four weeks, they have painted McCain as a skirt-chasing, lobbyist-influenced hothead, all based on absolutely no evidence at all. Now we can add cancerous to that list of unsupported adjectives after yesterday’s analysis by a physician who has never treated McCain. Dr. Lawrence K. Altman provides a scary, er, scarry lead to a non-story:

Along with his signature bright white hair, the most striking aspects of Senator John McCain’s physical appearance are his puffy left cheek and the scar that runs down the back of his neck.

The marks are cosmetic reminders of the melanoma surgery he underwent in August 2000. Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, sometimes tells audiences that he has “more scars than Frankenstein.”

The operation was performed mainly to determine whether the melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer, had spread from his left temple to a key lymph node in his neck; a preliminary pathology test at the time showed that it had not.

But because such a test cannot be definitive, the surgeons, with Mr. McCain’s advance permission, removed the surrounding lymph nodes and part of the parotid gland, which produces saliva, in the same operation, which lasted five and a half hours.

The final pathology analysis showed no evidence of spread of the melanoma, his staff said at the time. Mr. McCain, of Arizona, has said he did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

Altman then launches into an indirect criticism of McCain for not releasing his medical records yet in this campaign. He released those records early in his previous campaign, but as Altman notes, that was because they were part of a public study on the health of former POWs. Altman fails to mention that no other candidate in this race has released medical records. Heck, Hillary won’t even release her tax records yet, and her husband — who better fits the bill of a skirt-chasing, lobbyist-influenced hothead — never did release his medical records during his administration.

Ah, but McCain has cancer. Or, rather, he had cancer, and they got it all. And as even Altman points out, that usually means a good prognosis:

For patients with a melanoma like Mr. McCain’s who remained free of the disease for the first five years after diagnosis, the probability of recurrence during the next five years was 14 percent and death 9 percent, a study published in 1992 found.

No spread has been detected in the three or four dermatologic checkups Mr. McCain has undergone each year since 2000, stress tests show no evidence of heart disease, and “his doctors consider him in very good health,” his campaign staff said in a recent statement.

So, in fact, McCain has talked about the treatment, follow-up, and results of his post-surgical period. He has had a check every three to four months since the surgeries, and no more surgery has been done. Otherwise, that certainly would have made the news, as facial surgery is very hard to hide, and McCain keeps a higher media profile than most of his Senate colleagues.

Or does Altman and the New York Times argue that McCain would have just let melanomas grow so that he could fool people into thinking he was healthy in case he wanted to run for President in 2008? That’s the logic of the argument here. Either McCain hasn’t had any more surgeries because he hasn’t had to have them — in other words, he’s healthy — or he’s deliberately letting cancer ravage his body just to fool people into thinking he’s healthy.

Does any of the editors at the Times actually read their material before publishing it?

Readers start the article with talk of the scars on McCain’s face. They finish it by realizing that the article is yet another self-inflicted scar on the credibility of the Times.


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Strike 4..

1. Iseman story
2. Born in Panama Canal Story.
3. Angry at reporter story.(John Kerry old news)
4. Now this old cancer BS.

Chakra Hammer on March 10, 2008 at 7:01 AM

Already read in a Norwegian national newspaper yesterday: “The senator from Arizona has also had problems with skin cancer in recent years.”

Don’t worry, the Norwegian media already jumped all over the previous nuggets from the NY Times as well, reporting them uncritically, of course.

Seixon on March 10, 2008 at 7:02 AM

The editorial board is a cancer inside the NY Times.

Jaibones on March 10, 2008 at 7:04 AM

Don’t worry, the Norwegian media already jumped all over the previous nuggets from the NY Times as well, reporting them uncritically, of course.

Seixon on March 10, 2008 at 7:02 AM

Happily, they’re in Norway … right? (wtf)

Jaibones on March 10, 2008 at 7:06 AM

Yeah, I saw this yesterday. The problem with your baseball analogy is that the NYT’s will keep swinging at McCain and there is no umpire to call them out.

bongo on March 10, 2008 at 7:06 AM

What a rag! The real scandal with McPain is his quote that he will keep troups in Iraq for 100 years! C’mon! Enough! I’m a conservative and I no longer have a dog in this hunt! I either have to vote for this loser or two communists? Sigh…

sabbott on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

Y’know…I can’t help but observe that this continuing series of cheap shots by the NY Times (who once treated McCain with a degree of reverence close to what they now reserve for Obama) is probably the best PR McCain could possibly hope for, in terms of rallying otherwise dubious conservatives to his banner.

Coincidence?

Cylor on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

“New Challenge to Times Board: Dissidents With Large Stake”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/business/media/10times.html?_r=2&ref=media&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

awesum on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

And of course CBS brought it up as well during their interview with him that was done Friday night. Asked him why he hasnt released his medical records. He abruptly told him “I have been saying for a while that they will be released within the month.”

broker1 on March 10, 2008 at 7:12 AM

I suspect most of us on the starboard side realize this already—but I think the NYT has made an editorial decision to eschew conservative and Republican readers. It’s picked a liberal, elite, or wanna-be-elite audience as its target.

And (pretty smart on their part), the NYT recognizes that many in that audience don’t so much want news in their newspapers. (They get their news from the Internet and NPR). They want to read things that reinforce their world view. And, they’re not all that concerned if those things they read have a few inaccuracies, here and there. The Internet will tell them quickly enough what is and isn’t really happening in the world. They want their newspaper–a luxury, not a necessity these days—to reinforce their world image. And, in that world image, Republicans are fatally flawed.

The NYT is giving its desired audience what it wants.

smagar on March 10, 2008 at 7:14 AM

sabbott on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

I’m certainly no McCain fan here, so I feel your pain. But on the ’100 year’ thing, don’t go believing the hype. Look at the context, read the quote. The man was talking about a Germany, Japan, or Korea type of situation. We have troops there many decades later, but are we at war there?
/nuff said

bikermailman on March 10, 2008 at 7:16 AM

Other then some doc to say that he is healthy, his medical records are none of my damn business.

Limerick on March 10, 2008 at 7:32 AM

It was strike 3 for me a long time ago. But not for HA. Still using their articles in the headlines section now and again.

JiangxiDad on March 10, 2008 at 7:34 AM

Next thing you know, the New York Times is going to print a story that McCain has a memebership at Augusta National Golf Club, that way they can flood two zones at once!

gridlock2 on March 10, 2008 at 7:43 AM

It’s a good thing the Times is impartial, otherwise they might really go after McCain with nonstories while ignoring potentially corrupt fundraising in the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

rbj on March 10, 2008 at 8:04 AM

Does McCain play lacrosse?

Maybe the Slimes can Slime him with the charge of playing lacrosse and maybe raping a whacked out stripper.

benrand on March 10, 2008 at 8:05 AM

So, just how many strikes is the NYT going to get? 10? 35? 478?

Let’s just call it Presidential Tee Ball.

Nethicus on March 10, 2008 at 8:11 AM

The New York Times: Proud to be the Roberta Aguilar of the Print World!

Captain Scarlet on March 10, 2008 at 8:13 AM

There is absolutely no bedrock to how low the NY Times can go. Honestly, at some point, don’t the networks and other MSM’ers sorta kinda have to stop setting their compass by the NYT’s true north? I mean, is it 1/3 or fully 1/2 of their stories now that turn out to be mostly crap?

Sugar Land on March 10, 2008 at 8:14 AM

Next up from the New York Times:

McCain’s Mysterious Ties to the Lindbergh Baby

D2Boston on March 10, 2008 at 8:17 AM

McCain should turn over his medical records at the same time the editors and reporters of the N Y Times hand over their mental health and police records.

Readers are not concerned with their physical well being but more concerned for their mental health which can adversely impact or influence readers.

MSGTAS on March 10, 2008 at 8:28 AM

The speed and alacrity with which the Times went from endorsement to slander of McCain should stand as a cautionary tale for Republicans for the next 50 years at least. The switch, though predictable, was breathtaking.

Republicans: take note of who’s praising you, and for what; and don’t expect it to continue past the point that your nomination is secure.

(Unrelated to this topic, please visit my political blog, “Plumb Bob Blog: Squaring the Culture,” at http://www.plumbbobblog.com. Thanks.)

philwynk on March 10, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Yeah, I saw this yesterday. The problem with your baseball analogy is that the NYT’s will keep swinging at McCain and there is no umpire to call them out.

bongo on March 10, 2008 at 7:06 AM

They will keep swinging at him like he is a pinata, you know that Mexican bag of toys and candy. Oh my God! That is exactly what he is! A pinata! John “pinata” McCain.

I either have to vote for this loser or two communists? Sigh…

sabbott on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

Ain’t that the truth.

cjs1943 on March 10, 2008 at 8:35 AM

What a rag! The real scandal with McPain is his quote that he will keep troups in Iraq for 100 years! C’mon! Enough! I’m a conservative and I no longer have a dog in this hunt! I either have to vote for this loser or two communists? Sigh…

sabbott on March 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM

Here is the ENTIRE quote:

“President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years.” McCain responded, “Make it a hundred. We’ve been in Japan for 60 years, we’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That’s fine with me. I hope it will be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping, and motivating people every single day.”

ArmyAunt on March 10, 2008 at 10:01 AM

ArmyAunt on March 10, 2008 at 10:01 AM

I hope he recites what he said, word for word, the first time he hears that accusation from Obambi in a presidential debate.

I know that’s assumming the Messiah wins ….. and he has the balls to say it to McCain’s face.

Nevermind. The coward can only say it when he is preaching to his delusional flock.

fogw on March 10, 2008 at 10:20 AM

Is there really no government body or otherwise that can hold these newspapers accountable? They’re free to spew unsourced accusations, really engage in libel all the day long, and yet no one calls them out on it.

amkun on March 10, 2008 at 10:26 AM

The NYT has finally given up on even the pretense of political objectivity. It is now obvious to other media types that Pinch, Keller, et.al. are determined to undermine McCain using innuendo, implications, and anoymous sources.

But you know what – the rest of the media is OK with it as long as the the Times keeps touting its journalistc ethics and objectivity. Don’t let the rubes know that the press is biased.

pilsener on March 10, 2008 at 10:29 AM

NYT subscribes to the keep-throwing-til-something-sticks school of “journalism.”

amkun on March 10, 2008 at 10:26 AM

I hope there is no government watchdog. The blogosphere will keep the heat on. As we talk about these kinds of things at the watercooler, more and more people will log on and begin to learn on their own what’s going on. Hot Air, et al, is providing the balance.

davidk on March 10, 2008 at 10:56 AM

At this stage why would anyone take The New York Times seriously?

TooTall on March 10, 2008 at 11:08 AM

pilsener on March 10, 2008 at 10:29 AM

Yeah, because as we all know, the US’s standard for journalistic ethics is so much better than the rest of the world’s. Especially Britain’s where, you know, they just “make stuff up.” You’d never see that in the States, no sir. (Ref. to Tucker Carlson’s interview the other day if you didn’t catch it)

I hope there is no government watchdog.

davidk on March 10, 2008 at 10:56 AM

Good point.

amkun on March 10, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Question is, will people eventually recognize them as The Big Bad Broadsheet That Cried Wolf!

njcommuter on March 10, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Its like Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny

Mattpat11 on March 10, 2008 at 1:06 PM

We are the Democratic National Committee and we approve of this newspaper.

Bruce in NH on March 10, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Should know better than to read those papers at the checkout counter.

Kini on March 10, 2008 at 1:30 PM

This is getting old. What’s next? A whisper campaign that McCain likes mayo on his hamburgers?

srhoades on March 10, 2008 at 1:36 PM

I think they’re working on the second innning already.

steveegg on March 10, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Coming to a NYT rag near you: McPain’s hemorrhoids a distraction. You’ll also be interested to know about his chronic ingrown toenails which make him grumpy and snappy at times! /s

wepeople on March 10, 2008 at 2:56 PM

I kind of like the idea of a President who looks all scarred and battle-hardened. Call it a Dirty Harry quality: “Do you feel lucky Iran, well, do ya?”

ThePrez on March 10, 2008 at 4:00 PM