The Gray Lady won't win its 96th Pulitzer Prize with today's "expose" of John McCain's history of ethical struggles and leering innuendo about his relationship with a young woman lobbyist.
In fact, the Times' takeout is bigger news than its contents. The long leadup to publication has been a source of journalistic gossip for months, and the timing is attributed to worries about being beaten on the story by another media behemoth, the New Republic.
The days of the Pentagon papers, The New York Times vs Sullivan case that changed libel law and the universal respect for columnists like James Reston and Tom Wicker are long gone. Today we have William Kristol and this--a long rehash of McCain's political lapses, coupled with a low-fact personal smear.
In defining deviancy downward, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan might say, the Times has done more than open the door for its rabid right-wing haters. The newspaper of record has put pressure on itself to do a similar job on Barack Obama and his Antoin Rezko connections or face an election-year barrage of continuing criticism.
A long mea culpa from its Public Editor next weekend won't be enough to undo the damage.