If anything, the story could help John McCain in the near term with conservatives. "Look," they'll say, "the Times hates him after all." Then again, they might wonder why the Times endorsed McCain, why it didn't release this information, which it's apparently had for some time, before Super Tuesday. So maybe they'll just go on hating both the Times and McCain.
But the simple fact is this. One of the reasons long-term Senators don't get elected President is because they've got to much baggage. They've got more lobbyists than a chimp has lice.
And McCain is a particularly guilty party. And as the non-sexy parts of the Times story points out, McCain has had plenty of ethical lapses. In fact, many Republicans didn't want him as their candidate because he is a walking target. The more conspiratorially-minded among them figured that media outlets did all their legwork back in 2000 and were basically sitting on a treasure trove of stories. You can expect the Keating Five to make a grand re-entrance into American political discourse. And that may be just the tip of the iceberg. Look for, ethnical violations, such as his infamous "gook" comment, to be suddenly remembered as well.
So here's a marketing question for McCain's campaign managers. Who's more likely to do the worst damage to Brand McCain: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or ... John McCain?