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McCain vs. the NYT, Round 2

Campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb: "Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization....willful disregard of the truth."

The Times thinks it has a gotcha on John McCain, and it played it big on Wednesday's front page in a story by Jackie Calmes and David Kirkpatrick, "McCain Aide's Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac."



It's a follow-up on a Times-created controversy over McCain campaign manager (and alleged former Fannie Mae lobbyist) Rick Davis, the subject of a Monday story in the Times that caused McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt to famously go after the paper in blunt terms.



From Wednesday's Times:


One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.


The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.


Mr. Davis's firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.


They said they did not recall Mr. Davis's doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis's firm, Davis & Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of Mr. Davis's close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.


Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafortfor the presidential campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis & Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac's behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.


Michael Goldfarb of the McCain campaign issued a strong response early Wednesday morning to the story, which was posted at nytimes.com Tuesday night. Below is an excerpt, in which Goldfarb accused the Times of "willful disregard of the truth."



Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization. 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, contrary to previous reporting, as well as statements by this campaign and by Mr. Davis himself.


In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. 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. 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.


Further, and missing from the Times' reporting, Mr. Davis has never - never - been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.


Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with...Paul Begala.


Again, let us be clear: The New York Times - in the absence of any supporting evidence - has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain's long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - dating back to 2006.