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Is National Review Being Smeared?

The Daily Caller, a conservative online tabloid, has attracted some attention by alleging intellectual corruption on the part of National Review. Many conservatives slammed the Republican Party's "Pledge to America," but NR published a positive editorial. Here's the Daily Caller's accusation:

Many Republican offices didn’t even see it until it leaked to the media Wednesday afternoon, leading one aide to write in an e-mail to fellow legislative directors: “We shouldn’t have to get our own agenda from CBS News.”
But skittish rank-and-file members were reassured at a Wednesday night caucus meeting by leadership aides who distributed a National Review editorial praising the “Pledge.” Two high-level Republican sources said that the National Review editorial had been prearranged, however, by Neil Bradley, a top leadership aide* who is close to April Ponnuru, the executive director of the National Review Institute, and Kate O’Beirne, NRI’s president.
“It was a political blowjob,” one Republican aide said of the National Review editorial.

National Review utterly disputes the allegation. To me, it's not even clear what exactly is being alleged. What was "prearranged"? Was it the fact that NR would write some kind of editorial on this subject? That's silly -- this is the kind of thing NR exists to editorialize on. Was it the tone of the editorial? It's very common for politicians to seek out favorable coverage among opinion journalists. One way they do that is to meet with them before the release of things like the "Pledge to America" and provide and early leak and try to make their best case in the hopes of securing favorable commentary. (I've never participated is something like this, but I have no problem with the practice.) If that's what "prearranged" means, then it's a nothing story.

It's possible something less ethical went down. Obviously it all depends on exactly what happened at this meeting. But the story provides zero evidence -- not even vague characterization -- that the contact with NR was anything more than a routine spin session. And given the Daily Caller's record of utter contempt for basic journalistic norms, the very strong presumption should be that this is a non-story.