Times executive editor Bill Keller has denied that charge. "On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready," he wrote in a widely dispersed e-mail sent to The Page political website. It's not good for journalism when the paper of record's editor has all the credibility of a losing candidate who claims to never pay attention to political polls.
It didn't have to be this way. Editors at the Idaho Statesman refused to report on rumors about Sen. Larry Craig hitting on men -- until the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, broke the story in August 2007 that Craig had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men's restroom. Craig's guilty plea nailed the story.
When Craig tried to blame his guilty plea on the fact that his "state of mind" was distorted because the Idaho Statesman was out to get him, people laughed.
No one is laughing at The Times' story. The paper set out to shine a spotlight on McCain's ethics, but it ended up turning a harsh light on its own ethical lapses.