Did NYT Spike a Story about GBW’s Debate Cheating?

Fairness and Accuracy in Media, not one of my favorite groups but people worth at least listening to, claims that the NYT spiked a story about Bush carrying in mechanical aids into the debates: The Emperor's New Hump

On Thursday, just three days after that first exposé, the paper was set to run a second, perhaps more explosive piece, exposing how George W. Bush had worn an electronic cueing device in his ear and probably cheated during the presidential debates.

… But on October 28, the article was not in the paper. After learning from the reporters working on the story that their article had been killed the night before by senior editors, Nelson eventually sent his photographic evidence of presidential cheating to Salon magazine, which ran the photos as the magazine’s lead item on October 29.

Cowards. (spotted via Orcinus)

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6 Responses to Did NYT Spike a Story about GBW’s Debate Cheating?

  1. Bush is definitely wearing *something*. However, it’s ludicrous to think it’s a prompter.


    If he needs a magnetic inductor, he can get it tailored into his collar. His father was the head of the CIA, remember?

    There’s people walking around him – aides, producers, security.

    If he’s wearing something that bulky, it’s because

    1) For some reason, he *has* to wear it
    2) It *can’t* possibly be smaller

    Those two conditions argue it’s either body armor or a medical device.

    My guess is that the story was spiked with the magic words “national security”.

  2. Dan Ryan says:

    Might they not have ‘spiked’ the story because they weren’t sure it were true? If they had run, and were then proven to be mistaken, it would have been an enormous blow to the Times. Almost a bet-the-paper proposition. This is an incredibly serious accusation after all. Dan Rather’s career was ended by a story where only the evidence was in question (nobody seriously disputes Bush’s draft-dodging). This is a story where the basic proposition is unproven and well-nigh unproveable.

    If I were Bill Keller, and I were 80% confident the story was solid, I wouldn’t run it. Maybe 95% sure.

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    But, don’t you understand? They betrayed the left, by having an opportunity to strike a blow at Bush’s reelection prospects, just before the election, and failing to use it. Whether it was a fair blow is utterly beside the point. “By any means necessary”, right?

    I’m guessing that, besides the likely blow to the paper’s reputation, the story was spiked because after the 60 minutes fraud, the public was more or less expecting last minute fake exposes, and so the story wouldn’t have had enough impact to matter. So blame Dan Rather for his rather effective vaccination of public opinion. The dufus landed his foul blow too early, an spoiled everyone else’s opportunity to do the same.

  4. michael says:

    Personally, I don’t think Bush had live coaching during the debate: the budge is far bigger than that would require, and the answers were too awful. (And any responsible story would have noted that.) But I do think that the substantial preponderance of the evidence is that he was wearing something under his shirt, and that the White House has lied about it. What was it? I have no idea; the most plausible suggestions I’ve read are some heart monitor/regulator or something in the order of a bullet proof vest. The only contrary evidence, the interview with Bush’s tailor, is not in the least credible.

    There was a news story there, of some sort, and the media took a dive. It’s possible of course that they did so at the request of the Secret Service, if it was some sort of protective gear–but the White House denied that story. I think it was news, and would have been responsible to publish a “expert says there’s something there” story — without committing to what it was.

  5. If there was a news story there, they could have run it November 3rd. If it was only worth running just before the election, or not at all, it wasn’t a news story, it was a hit piece. Mike’s just mad because he thinks it’s the media’s job to be running hit pieces on candidates he doesn’t like.

  6. anon says:

    I thought the gossip was that Bush had a minor stroke (during the pretzel choking incident) due to a heart condition and that he may wear a monitoring device for that reason. It would explain his declining ability to speak with proper syntax, his aphasia etc. I forget what the term was for the medical condition, but given that there are many explanations for the “bulge on his back,” I don’t think it’s a big deal that the NYT spiked the story. Didn’t they run a story about the bloggers’ coverage of the story “a story on the story” ?

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