All last night, MSNBC covered the McCain/Times story with a “Breaking News” banner. The coverage started at around 7:45 EST when Keith Olbermann dramatically broke into Hardball coverage with his alert. When Olbermann’s head first appeared on the screen, I had that sinking feeling you get when the phone rings real early in the morning. You know it’s either bad news or a wrong number. Turns out Olbermann’s call was more of the wrong number variety.
Olbermann spent the last 15 minutes of Hardball as well as the first 30 minutes of Countdown covering the story. In the next hour, Dan Abrams covered the story, again under a “Breaking News” banner, for roughly 30 minutes.
I didn’t DVR the coverage so I can’t be 100 percent sure, but I don’t remember a single guest on either program take the bait of either Olbermann or Abrams that this was a sex scandal, although both hosts kept trying to drive the conversation in that direction. The consensus seemed to be if McCain was selling influence of some sort, then maybe it was a story.
Abrams went as far as to parse the language in the McCain press release from last night and said something like, “he never denied the sexual relationship in his statement!” This morning I see that McCain has a more complete denial that should suffice (But probably won’t. I can see pundits claim, “he only denied an inappropriate sexual relationship, not an appropriate one!).
It should be noted that MSNBC and the NY Times formed a partnership last summer to “collaborate on coverage of the 2008 presidential election” where “NBC News will have first access to breaking news and enterprise reporting from New York Times journalists on the campaign trail for all its on-air and online platforms.”