Main Squeeze

August 12, 2008 12:57 p.m.

Last week I mentioned that the Times reporting earlier this year on the McCain/Paxson/Iseman story had missed the key element of McCain’s participation in the influence peddling. Remember that McCain denied that he’d asked for a decision one way or another in the case Paxson and his lobbyist Iseman had before the FCC. He’d only pressed them to decide the matter one way or another. That was McCain’s story.

FCC insiders knew different. In fact, McCain was squeezing one of the FCC commissioners — making okaying Paxson’s deal a condition of their reappointment.

What I hadn’t realized is that McCain’s quid pro quo had actually already been flagged, albeit circumspectly, in what was apparently a little noticed piece by Josh Green in The Atlantic Monthly.

Susan Ness, a Democratic commissioner, took the rare step of breaking with her fellow Democrats and voting with the Republican commissioners to approve the Paxson deal.

And while there is no evidence that McCain or anyone on his staff made an explicit quid pro quo demand, Ness’s vote is widely thought to have been a bid to win her reappointment to the FCC–a bid that happened to have stalled before McCain’s committee months earlier.

So here we have what Paxson and Iseman bought from McCain, which pulls the whole story together and gives a much better sense of just what went down.

I know there are others out there (beside those who’ve already been in touch) who know more about what happened and can shed more light on the favors McCain provided. So please drop me a line. As always, your anonymity is assured.

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