I’m looking forward to Vicki Iseman’s defamation suit against the NYT, if only because we’re bound to see an argument over whether or not Iseman asked McCain to share a blankie with her. And an argument about the proper role of a lobbyist.
Iseman alleges two counts of defamation:
The first defamatory meaning was that Ms. Iseman exploited an alleged personal and social friendship with Senator McCain to obtain favorable legislative outcomes for her clients, engaging in "inappropriate" behavior that constituted a conflict of interest and a violation of professional and ethical norms in breach of the public trust. This meaning was communicated through the literal words of the article and also by implication, by what was intentionally suggested and implied "between the lines."
The second defamatory meaning was that Ms. Iseman and Senator McCain had engaged in an illicit and inappropriate romantic relationship while Ms. Iseman was a lobbyist conducting business on behalf of clients before the committee chaired by Senator McCain. This was also defamation per se under Virginia law. This meaning was also communicated through the literal words of the article and by implication, by what was suggested and implicated "between the lines."
Focusing on the second allegation first, they’re going to be relying heavily on the "between the lines" meaning here, since the original NYT article clearly printed Iseman’s and McCain’s denial of an affair and instead focused on the appearance of close ties–of any sort–with a lobbyist.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
What was at issue in the article was the appearance of an affair, not an affair itself, and the beliefs of McCain staffers about that appearance of an affair.
By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.
A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.