Many conservatives believe McCain's record is not conservative enough, and point to his willingness to work with Democrats on legislation, his initial opposition to President Bush's tax cuts, his opposition to a gay marriage ban, and the failed immigration reform legislation.
In a fundraising pitch sent to Republicans today, McCain's campaign said they needed help to "counteract the liberal establishment."
"The New York Times -- the newspaper that gave MoveOn.org a sweetheart deal to run advertisements attacking General Petraeus -- has shown once again that it cannot exercise good journalistic judgment when it comes to dealing with a conservative Republican," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis wrote in an emailed fundraising letter sent today.
"We need your help to counteract the liberal establishment and fight back against the New York Times by making an immediate contribution today," read the e-mail.
The Republican National Committee sent a similar fundraising email out today, citing the "shameless liberal media."
"Republicans must fight back against the mainstream media's clear liberal bias -- and we need your help to do it," read the email.
Many argue a critical story in the New York Times will not damage McCain's effort to woo conservatives.
"I don't think that the conservatives look to the New York Times as their primary source of credible news," said Rick Tyler, a campaign consultant who has worked as a spokesperson for former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
On Hannity's radio show Thursday afternoon Gingrich said the New York Times has no credibility among conservatives.
"It's hard for anyone to see them as anything but a left-wing, totally biased organization," Gingrich said.
The Christian Broadcasting Network's Web site, CBN.org, called the New York Times story "a hit job."
"In the conservative world, if the New York Times does a 'hit job' on you then you wear that as a conservative badge of honor. This story could actually HELP John McCain," Brody wrote in another blog today.
Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck this morning argued the story could even bolster conservative support for McCain.
"The New York Times is doing what John McCain couldn't do: rally support for John McCain," Beck said on his radio show this morning.
Beck said the Times should have published the story when he said they first had it, in December, "when we still had decent candidates to pick from."
"We could have chosen those guys instead," Beck said, citing Romney, former Sen. Fred Thompson and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has not dropped out of the Republican race even as McCain has secured nearly enough delegates to clinch the nomination, today defended McCain. After campaigning many times on the same stage as McCain, Huckabee said he knows McCain to be a man of great integrity.
Huckabee will meet tomorrow with James Dobson, founder of the influential Christian conservative group Focus on the Family, who today refused to comment on the McCain controversy. Dobson has endorsed Huckabee for the GOP nomination.
The media firestorm may be giving pause to the remnants of the Romney campaign. Romney abandoned his bid for the GOP nomination this month after McCain won a sweep of Super Tuesday states. Romney later endorsed the Arizona senator.
This morning, while no one would allow his or her name to be published, several former advisers lamented the timing of the story.