Bill Keller responded to reader questions yesterday about the Times' McCain bombshell. Since the story broke Wednesday night, advisers to Senator McCain have asserted that TNR's piece might have influenced the Times to get their piece into print before we ran with our story. This is what Keller said on nytimes.com:
Yes, Mr. Cleary, we were aware that a reporter for The New Republic was working on some kind of "back story" about our work on this story. No, it did not affect the timing of publication. The latest draft of the story landed on my desk—or, more precisely, in my e-mail—Tuesday afternoon. I thought it was excellent (for the record, I still think so) and we scheduled it for the Thursday paper.
We have no way of knowing if what we learned in the course of reporting our piece influenced the Times' editorial decisons, and it was never our intention to force the Times' hand. I take Keller at his word that he ran the piece when he felt it was ready to go.