In one of the most sensational stories of the presidential campaign, The New York Times published a 3,000-word, front-page article in February suggesting that a little-known telecommunications lobbyist named Vicki Iseman had an affair with Sen. John McCain during his first run for the White House in 1999. The story did not provide any evidence of an affair, but said that McCain’s top aides became convinced that the relationship was romantic and took steps to keep McCain and Iseman apart.
The story generated massive publicity, and media and political critics accused The Times of publishing a salacious and unfair story. The Times‘ own public editor joined the chorus of criticism saying, "Although [the newspaper] raised one of the most toxic subjects in politics — sex — it offered readers no proof that McCain and Iseman had a romance."
McCain, now 72, hotly denied a romantic tie to Iseman and accused The Times of "a hit-and-run smear campaign."
What did Iseman, whose blond good looks helped to drive the story, have to say about the explosive allegations? She refused to be interviewed by The Times, but in e-mail exchanges with the paper’s reporters, she denied ever having a romantic relationship with McCain and disputed key assertions made by The Times‘ unnamed sources.
Now, after more than seven months of silence, Iseman, who just turned 41, has decided to speak out and aggressively defend herself. In a series of interviews and e-mail exchanges with National Journal, she said she and McCain had a "strictly professional" and cordial relationship.
"I did not have a sexual relationship with Senator McCain," she said in a three-hour interview last month in a seventh-floor conference room in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. "I never had an affair or an inappropriate relationship with Senator McCain, and that means I never acted unethically in my dealings with the senator." Iseman, a partner in the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay, where she has worked for 18 years, adds, "I have never even been alone with Senator McCain."
Iseman says she answered every question put to her by The Times, but that the newspaper "chose to disregard" many of her answers. "The New York Times set out to write a story about a ‘romantic relationship’ in exchange for legislative favors…. Make the lobbyist a prostitute — pretty heady stuff. The only problem was, they were wrong on all counts."
"Luke Ford reports all of the 'juicy' quotes, and has been doing it for years." (Marc B. Shapiro)
"This guy knows all the gossip, the ins and outs, the lashon hara of the Orthodox world. He’s an [expert] in... all the inner workings of the Orthodox world." (Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff)
"This generation's Hillel." (Nathan Cofnas)