They're not. The fact that we have a NY Times columnist actually saying this is in an of itself amazing.
All indications are, however, that Campaign 2012 will make Campaign 2000 look like a model of truthfulness. And all indications are that the press won’t know what to do — or, worse, that they will know what to do, which is act as stenographers and refuse to tell readers and listeners when candidates lie. Because to do otherwise when the parties aren’t equally at fault — and they won’t be — would be “biased”.
This will be true even of those news organizations specifically charged with fact-checking. Yes, they’ll call out some lies — but they’ll also claim that some perfectly reasonable statements are lies, in order to keep their precious balance. This is already happening: as Igor Volsky points out, one of the finalists for Politifact’s Lie of the Year is a Democratic claim — that Republicans want to abolish Medicare — that happens to be entirely true.
This will not be a fun year.
PolitiFact's "Pants on Fire" rating for the DCCC's claim that the Republicans voted to end Medicare is precisely true, and PolitiFact ignores the facts. Not only that, it of course makes their short list of "Lie of the Year" as Volsky points out. Here's how PolitiFact defends their judgment:
The Republican proposal will end the aspect of Medicare that directly covers specific services, such as hospital coverage. "It's as if you took the Office of Faith-Based Partnerships and ended the faith-based portion of it, but continued to call it faith-based," said Jesse Ferguson of the DCCC. "There is no doubt that Medicare -- a health insurance program for seniors -- would end under the House Republican plan and, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office, health insurance costs would rise for seniors."
Democrats, including Obama, have said the plan would end Medicare "as we know it," a critical qualifier. But the 30-second ad from the DCCC makes a sweeping claim without that important qualifier.
The "as we know it" makes it a Pants on Fire lie, when PolitiFact concedes that the GOP proposal they voted on earlier this year would end hospital coverage for seniors. PolitiFact in fact goes out of their way to find fault with this ad and paints it as not only a completely false claim even though they admit that several points that the Democrats make are partially correct or in the case of guaranteed hospital coverage, fully correct.
But the ad is judged as a blatant, "Pants on Fire" lie. Krugman simply gives voice to the obvious fraud here. PolitiFact had to have something on the Democrats or they'd lose their "credibility". Being regarded as "liberal" is worse than telling the truth as a political media fact-checking outfit. Amazing how that works, almost laughably so.
It's the worst-kept secret in Washington, and yet it takes Paul Krugman to actually name the demon. And he's right: the best part is we have another 11 months of this to go.