Check this out:

As far as the timing, don’t attach too much significance to the Drudge posting. We heard a second-hand report from a lobbyist about Senator McCain and Vicki Iseman more than a year ago. Early last year we began making careful, quiet inquiries into the matter. Last fall, we learned more about some of the conversations around the campaign concerning Ms. Iseman, and we kept reporting.



According to the Times' David Kirkpatrick, somebody -- Rutenberg? -- first picked up on rumors about Sen. John McCain and lobbyist Vicki Iseman "more than a year ago." And the first reporting on the article began "early last year."

Why is that significant? Because many -- including the Times's own David Brooks and Ms. Iseman's lobbying firm -- seem to blame McCain aide John Weaver for instigating the story.

But more than a year ago, Mr. Weaver was firmly ensconced as McCain's chief strategist. It beggers belief to think that he would someone be involved in tipping off a Times reporter.

Note also that Kirkpatrick says the first tip -- from a "second hand" report -- came from a lobbyist. Most likely, this lobbyist was not friendly to Mr. McCain.

I'm as curious as the next reporter about the identity of the original and confirming sources. Kirkpatrick's words lend some credence to my theory that at least one of them was a prominent lobbyist who was part of the team in 2000 and had some reason to disfavor McCain.

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