Lobbyist Settles Libel Suit Against NYT in McCain Story

The lobbyist who sued the New York Times for libel after the paper implied she engaged in a romantic relationship with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has settled the suit, the paper announced Thursday.

Lobbyist Vicki Iseman sued the Times for libel in December for having reported in a February 2008 article that McCain advisers had sought to block access to the Arizona Senator after becoming concerned that their relationship had become romantic in nature. Both McCain and Iseman strenuously denied the allegations.

"Had this case proceeded to trial, the judicial determination of whether [Iseman] is entitled to the protections afforded a private citizen would have been the subject of a ferocious, pivotal battle," attorneys for Iseman said in a statement. "The parties have settled the present case through negotiation, a rational process that has led to a civilized resolution."

"The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust," the Times stated in a note to readers Thursday afternoon.

"Vicki Iseman has dropped her lawsuit against The Times, just weeks after it was filed. We paid no money. We did not apologize," Times Washington Bureau Chief Dean Baquet wrote in a memo to staff. "We did not retract one word of the story, which was a compelling chapter in the tale of Senator John McCain and his political rise."

Other news organizations had been working on and published similar stories focusing on an uncomfortably close professional relationship between Iseman and McCain, though no paper but the Times explicitly explored a romantic relationship.