‘Times’ Editorial-Page Editors Totally Saw McCain Slap Coming

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

In addition to letting the world know about his exciting new deal with Bono, Times editorial-page editor Andrew Rosenthal had some other fabulous things to share last night for Columbia J-School students. Like, for example, what the fake anthrax letter from yesterday looked like. (Apparently it was something like a page torn from a children's book, with the words "Red means 'Stop,' Green means 'Go,' Yellow means 'Slow down.' Except the color words were blacked out. Creepy!) But also, he explained that when they published Barack Obama's opinion piece, he knew exactly what would happen next:

"When we accepted [Obama's piece] I said to David Shipley, our editor, 'okay here's how this is gonna go. We are going to run this thing and the McCain people will ask for equal time. And we are going to give it to them because it's only fair. And they are going to send us a horrible, unprintable op-ed piece. And we're going to ask them for the same exact changes we asked Barack Obama for and we are never going to hear from them and they're going to leak it to Drudge and attack us for dissing McCain.' And that is exactly what happened.

Of course, if they had known all of this was going to happen, they maybe should have been a bit more diplomatic about it. Rosenthal conceded that the reply letter they sent to the McCain campaign was "slightly inartfully worded," so just maaaayyyybe this could have been avoided. But probably not, really. And anyway, that would have contradicted the narrative the Times had already decided upon, and we all know how that goes over.

Andrew Rosenthal explains why McCain wasn’t published in NYT [Franz-Strasser]
Earlier: Bono Signs Deal With New York 'Times'
John McCain Could Write an Op-ed for the ‘Times’; He Just Doesn't Want To