Media entities could have had an internal conversation along the lines of: "This is stupid; let's cover the education stuff." Instead, news outlets are either giving McCain evil-genuis points for turning a nothing into a something, or are calling out the McCain campaign for being mean and duplicitous, but in any event, voters on the periphery of the conversation only hear enough to hear the accusations anyway.
Right. The important thing to remember is that nobody is forcing journalists to behave this way. They choose to do so. They choose to behave in a way that benefits stupid and dishonest claims.
And they can choose to stop. Or they can choose to continue. But either way, they're making a choice.
Behold, our Fourth Estate.
We're a day late on this one, but it needed to be said, and Jeff Bercovici at Portfolio.com did.
Tom Tomorrow seems to have anticipated today's news coverage.
In related matters: MSNBC's Contessa Brewer just asked McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer about the McCain camp's lipstick-on-a-pig nonsense: "If it's so important, Nancy, then why aren't we hearing from John McCain and Sarah Palin? They just got finished giving the same stump speeches we've seen over and over again, and did not address this at all. So if it's so important, why aren't we seeing them address it?"
That's a pretty good question for Pfotenhauer.
Here's a better question for MSNBC: If it isn't important enough for McCain and Palin to mention it, why is MSNBC treating it as the most important story in the world right now?
Today's edition of The Hotline's "Wake Up Call" includes this mocking entry about Hillary Clinton:
An apparently bored Hillary Clinton is taking on "the sponsors of the Serbian basketball league," because a "fugitive" has reportedly signed a contract to play with "KK Vrbas basketball club" (New York Post).
That snide suggestion that Clinton is wasting her time on trivial matters seems awfully inappropriate in light of the New York Post's explanation of what the fugitive did to one of Clinton's constituents:
The thuggish Slav fled the United States after being bailed out following his arrest for the savage beating on May 4 of SUNY Binghamton student Bryan Steinhauer, 23, at a bar near the school.
Steinhauer, who hails from Brooklyn, has only recently begun emerging from a coma and remains hospitalized.
Kovacevic managed to escape from justice with the help of a Serbian diplomat who issued him an illegal passport to replace the one seized by authorities.
Jill Zuckman, on MSNBC, about the McCain campaign's "lipstick on a pig" lie: "Even if we all think the charge may be a little bit flimsy, they have got all of us talking about it."
First, the charge isn't "a little bit flimsy," it's a lie.
Second: Reporters don't have to play along with this nonsense. They can refuse to report the McCain camp's false attacks. Or they can use their coverage to make clear that this is the latest in a long line of false smears from McCain, and indicative of the kind of campaign he is running, rather than pretending there is some open question about whether Obama called Sarah Palin a pig, or behaving as though the important question is "will the attack work" rather than "what does the lie say about the person telling the lie."
Matthew Yglesias catches the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman in a McCain-friendly falsehood.
This is the kind of thing that merits a correction -- Weisman is not only inaccurately coming to McCain's defense, he's inaccurately suggesting that Obama is being misleading. So, does the Washington Post take the truth seriously? Find out tomorrow!
New York Observer offers an inside look of the recent personnal changes at the cabler.
Nugget: Andrea Mitchell expressed concerns to NBC's CEO that Keith Olbermann should not be anchoring MSNBC's big political events.
Paul Begala laments how they dominate campaign coverage.