Saturday, February 23, 2008

Maybe It’s The Slightly-Askew Talk Express?

It seems John McCain’s “straight talk” is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

McCain vigorously denies doing any favors for clients of his friend/telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman. But one of those clients, Paxson Communications, refutes McCain’s claims:
Broadcaster Lowell "Bud" Paxson yesterday contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson's behalf.

Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters in 1999 to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson's quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station.

Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, likely attended the meeting in McCain's office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting.

Oops. Oh, Mr. Ethics! We’re so disappointed! Interestingly, McCain himself earlier admitted to meeting with Paxson:

McCain himself in a deposition in 2002 acknowledged talking to Paxson about the Pittsburgh sale. Asked what Paxson said in the conversation, McCain said that Paxson "had applied to purchase this station and that he wanted to purchase it. And that there had been a numerous year delay with the FCC reaching a decision. And he wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business."

The deposition was taken in litigation over the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law filed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The contradiction in the deposition was first reported by Newsweek yesterday afternoon.

Ooops again.

Something else I found interesting was that in addition to Paxson Communications, one of Vicki Iseman’s other clients is the dreadfully right-wing and partisan Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair, of course, is the broadcasting company that ordered its 62 TV stations to air the anti-John Kerry propaganda piece “Stolen Honor” two weeks before the 2004 election. How ironic that the same folks accusing the New York Times of intentionally waiting for John McCain to sew up the nomination before dropping its Vicki Iseman bombshell thought it perfectly fine for Sinclair to broadcast its lies right before the actual election.

Bloggers note that Paxson Communications also jumped on board the “Stolen Honor” bandwagon, and McCain himself refused to denounce “Stolen Honor.” He’s such a maverick! EmptyWheel at Firedoglake has more on this, and I urge you to hop over there and read the post because it raises a lot of questions.

And let me add, none of this would be quite the big deal it is if John McCain hadn’t spent the past 10 years presenting himself as some kind of “new” politician with unimpeachable integrity. We all know that Republicans are in bed with big industry and lobbysists, and finding another one doing favors for his friends is, well, expected. But McCain has said he learned his lesson after the Keating Five scandal. Guess not.

(h/t, Atrios.)