We tweeted back: "Says the editor whose page endorsed him [McCain] in the Republican primary." Which prompted a surprising reply from Rosenthal: "Was wondering where you were. Might read the editorial. We said he was best of BAD choices. No endorsement.""Fringe" is a key word at NYT. Taranto is making a big deal about what counts as endorsement, but the NYT wasn't really endorsing any Republicans over Hillary/Obama in '08. No one was fooled. The only potentially "bizarre" thing here is the fringe/not fringe characterization of McCain.
We did read the editorial, which appeared Jan. 25, 2008. Not only did it appear to us to be an endorsement--albeit a backhanded one--but it contradicted Rosenthal's assertion that "McCain is fringe": "Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe."
And even that isn't bizarre, since it's all a matter of perspective. What is the "fringe"? It depends on what you're looking at. If you're the NYT, looking only at the group of Republican candidates in 2008, everyone but McCain is way out there on the fringe. But if you're the NYT looking at a collection of Republicans and Democrats, all the Republicans, including McCain, are on the fringe.
Everything is utterly what you'd expect and not at all bizarre.