It is unfortunate yet revealing to read this article on how the media pursues what is termed as untruths and evaluating the credibility of statements by politicians.
I can wholly understand the eagerness to pounce on those non-political statements that are determined to be untrue by politicians (i.e. “I had no knowledge” or “I did not have relations with that woman”), yet those untruths uttered regarding actual topics of political discourse are left unexposed. The end result is that by simply having enough voices repeating a lie, the lie becomes true in so far as the media is concerned, which leads to it being perceived as true by the general populace.
This is an important breakdown in the watchdog role that the media are in theory exercising over the political class. That they are unwilling to challenge leaders when their statements are disprovable, and with a minimum of legwork, strikes me as reckless and irresponsible. Because statements regarding Iraq were argued as true by George Bush, for instance, over Iraq’s weapons capability, and backed up by other Republicans with a minimum of evidence, led the major media outlets to essentially report these as true. Rather than performing additional investigation that may have discredited some of these claims early on, before a war was launched, they were allowed to slide. Yet now, examples continue to be shown over where spin overruled fact. Just recently, there was another Washington Post article on how the spy agencies argued that the Iraqi resistance would be significant, as opposed to the convential views put forth by the Bush administration. Even now, the argument surrounding adequate troop levels is raging, and questions regarding the initial post-war plannings range freely.
While actually investigating remarks by public officials for their validitiy may take extra effort in this 24×7 news cycle, this is part of the value of a free and open press. Being critical when necessary is vitally important, even at the risk of appearing partisan.