NEW YORK - The New York Times stands by the story it ran in Thursday's edition about Republican presidential front-runner John McCain, the newspaper's top editor said.
Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said the story about an alleged relationship that the Arizona senator had with a Washington telecommunications lobbyist nearly eight years ago is relevant today.
The story shows McCain is "careless about appearances, careless about his reputation, and that's a pretty important thing to know about somebody who wants to be president of the United States," Keller was quoted by the Times' public editor as saying.
The newspaper's ombudsman noted in his regular column that the 3,000-word article sparked a flood of reader reactions. He said more than 2,400 readers commented about the story on the newspaper's Web site.
Most of the complaints stemmed from the story's second paragraph, in which the Times reported that during McCain's presidential run in 2000 his top advisers became "convinced" he was having a "romantic" relationship with a female lobbyist and they sought to protect the candidate from himself.
McCain and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, denied they had an affair. The newspaper reported no proof of the alleged relationship.
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