As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's The Lying, It's The Favors

The John McCain/lobbyist story has officially jumped into a serious issue, at least in the eyes of the print media. While St. Maverick is certainly caught in a lie over his blanket denial of writing letters to the FCC on behalf of Paxson Communications, now there are questions over another FCC letter.

WASHINGTON — In late 1998, Senator John McCain sent an unusually blunt letter to the head of the Federal Communications Commission, warning that he would try to overhaul the agency if it closed a broadcast ownership loophole.

The letter, and two later ones signed by Mr. McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, urged the commission to abandon plans to close a loophole vitally important to Glencairn Ltd., a client of Vicki Iseman, a lobbyist. The provision enabled one of the nation’s largest broadcasting companies, Sinclair, to use a marketing agreement with Glencairn, a far smaller broadcaster, to get around a restriction barring single ownership of two television stations in the same city.

Sinclair Broadcasting, as we know, is the right-wing media company that made "Stolen Honor," the documentary hit job on John Kerry in 2004. They broadcast it over all their television stations, and at the time John McCain lamented the documentary as a result of media consolidation. Yet here we have him writing letters to keep exactly that kind of media consolidation in place.

(He really should have gone further, by the way, since his military honor is going to come into question as the campaign goes on.)

Emptywheel has the definitive take on this story, and highlights this point:

For its part, Glencairn appeared to have been getting little support in Congress until it retained Ms. Iseman in 1998.

Edwin Edwards, who was the president of the company at the time, said in a recent interview that after retaining Ms. Iseman, he was able to get heard by Mr. McCain.

“We were pounding the pavement in Washington,” Mr. Edwards said. “We recruited help from as many people as we could. We knocked on every door just trying to get support.”

Iseman certainly had the ability to get McCain to do what was beneficial for her clients. The right can try to make this all about sex, but it's really gone well beyond that. This is about Maverick McReform-O-Straight Talk doing favors for corporate interests. All the time.

Not to mention that he's scamming the public financing system, reducing his credibility even further.

Republican Sen. John McCain might well ride out his standoff with federal regulators over his withdrawal from public financing for the primaries.

The contretemps, however, could haunt him in the general election.

The Federal Election Commission's decision to challenge McCain has forced the Arizona senator and likely Republican presidential nominee to defy the government's top campaign finance regulator in an area of law that McCain himself has helped seed with regulations.

His defiance, legally defensible or not, threatens to strip him of the moral high ground he needs to level the financial playing field for the general election.

McCain's defiance of the FEC, if rulings eventually go against him, carry JAIL TERMS of up to five years. Which of course he knows, since he WROTE THE LAW.

Then there are the confluence of interests between McCain, Iseman's lobbying firm, Carnival Cruise Lines (who leased ships to FEMA under a no-bid contract to house rescue workers in the Gulf Coast for a ridiculously overpriced sum), and Jeb Bush. That one's complicated, but if you're interested it's over here.

McCain has a real problem now, one that's going to carry all the way to November. His integrity is in serious question, and he's building a habit of lying to the press, which is breaking down the firewall he nromally holds, where the media won't report on him critically.

Expect many, many more of these stories.

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