Poor John McCain. I just heard NBC's Chuck Todd on TV saying that the New York Times story hinting at a 2000 affair between McCain and a much younger lobbyist could actually help him by inspiring anger at the Times among his supporters.
The problem is, McCain doesn't have supporters like that. He's won a lot of votes, but he just doesn't have the usual Republican base of support -- people who hate the "liberal media" and who'll see this article as a sign of media bias against Republicans. The talk-show hosts won't defend him. The rank-and-file GOP base won't see him as a guy who's been dealt a low blow by their mutual enemies.
If anything, Limbaugh et al. might even express approval of the story, the real thrust of which is that, on ethics, McCain's deeds don't match his words. Limbaugh and his pals finds those words really sanctimonious. For that reason, they might help keep this story alive for a while.
UPDATE: D. and Donna in comments say this probably won't hurt McCain -- it'll come off as old news and, well, he's a Republican. I agree. I think voters are blase about sex scandals and corruption scandals in general. But I think, as I say above, that he could have actually turned this back around on the media if he had the usual wingnut gang backing him up, and I do think the wingnut media might actually back the Times up for a while.
UPDATE: Another mistaken hunch on my part:
Conservative media outlets rushed with surprising vehemence to defend Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday against a critical article in The New York Times, embracing a maverick they have often attacked.
Rush Limbaugh calls it "the drive-by media ... trying to take him out."
Laura Ingraham, another influential conservative radio host, said the Times waited until McCain was on the brink of the Republican presidential nomination and now is seeking to "contaminate" him with an article that she calls "absurd" and "ridiculous."
CBN.org, the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network, says an attack by the Times is "a conservative badge of honor." ...
What I've been told is an old Islamic adage is also, apparently, a wingnut adage: Me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me and my brother and my cousin against a stranger. And everyone against the Times.
UPDATE: But as Kathy points out in the comments to another thread, Bay Buchanan is not rushing to McCain's defense:
...She was frothing at mouth last night on CNN's [Anderson Cooper] 360, stoking the fundie fires. She obviously thinks her man Mitt would have walked away with the nomination had this story dropped back before Florida.
...BUCHANAN: ...We -- we -- you know, conservatives are -- we believe that we are the family value party. We believe it seriously. We expect our candidates to live up to those values, not just to talk about them and expect us to vote for them, and not be there really when it counts.
And our -- we have a basic belief. If can you lie to your wife and your children, then the voter doesn't have a prayer....