A couple of things have happened of late that led me to believe that the once-proud institution of American journalism might shake itself free of its calcified stupor and cover this presidential campaign in a manner befitting a free society. But then the Pig-n-Lipstick Pageant broke out and it's back to breathless junior high whispering for the chattering classes.
Does anyone really believe that Barack Obama would be so stupid as to characterize Sarah Palin as a pig? C'mon. Any truthful review of Obama's comments shows that he was referring to a McCain policy and not his running mate. This is Al Gore sighing, this is John Kerry on a windsurfing board. Another useless diversion from what's actually being said, what's actually at stake.
And it's a shame, cuz one of the recent happenings that has led me to believe that American journalism might be -- might be -- on the way back from wandering in the He-Said-She-Said wilderness is the growing willingess of reporters from major news organizations to call the McCain/Palin campaign out on Gov. Palin's false claim that she opposed the "Bridge to Nowhere."
See, it's important for reporters to not simply be stenographers. It's not enough to report one side's claim, and the other side's response. A good reporter has to determine which party's story falls closest to measurable, objective reality. It's not enought to report, "Republicans today claimed that 2+2=5. Some Democrats disagreed."
A good reporter might conclude that observable reality -- including things like counting, centuries of tradition, and the application of heretofore accepted mathematical theories and practices -- supports the fact that 2+2 does in fact equal 4, and thus, the Democratic position is the correct one.
And pointing out a falsehood and calling it as much is not bias, it's not the "liberal media," it's good journalism.
Even better is the Obama campaign calling out McCain for lying:
"I don't care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift-boat politics. Enough is enough."
Lies. It's important to say the word. Lies are different than omissions, weasel words, or mistakes. Lying is a deliberate, conscious act.
John Kerry never came out in 2004 and said that Dubya was a liar -- about the war, about wiretapping, about torture, ad nauseam. In fact, he went out of his way during a debate to say he wasn't using that term. And he lost.
Obama is saying it. I hope he doesn't stop now.
And I hope the Pig-n-Lipstick Parade is over in time to talk about real life.