Bill Keller has issued this statement on the John McCain story:
On the substance, we think the story speaks for itself. On the timing, our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready. "Ready" means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats. This story was no exception. It was a long time in the works. It reached my desk late Tuesday afternoon. After a final edit and a routine check by our lawyers, we published it.
UPDATE: An earlier version of Mr. Keller’s statement sent to MSNBC includes a sentence that wasn’t sent to us. "In all the uproar, no one has challenged what we actually reported," is the way the second sentence read. We’ve got a call out to the Times to explain why they removed that sentence.
UPDATE II: Here’s a statement we just got from Diane McNulty, a Times spokeswoman: "When we filed the first version, nothing in the McCain statements had questioned any particular fact. In his press conference McCain challenged one fact — he said he was not confronted by staff. So we obviously had to amend our statement accordingly. We stand by the reporting in the story."