A Thought Exercise For People Who Cover Politics

The following sentence appeared in a Washington Post story about “you didn’t build that” talking points.

Republicans contend that the remarks capture Obama’s identity as a leader who neither understands nor respects business and instinctively looks to government for solutions.

Try to imagine that statement actually being true. It’s impossible. In the United States of America a man could never garner enough support to become president if he did not truly respect business. He wouldn’t even get out of the state senate. The attack is false, but it gets printed because it’s what the Republicans are trying to say, and that’s newsworthy.

Here’s my question. At what point does the media stop printing these kinds of accusations? What if the Obama campaign said they were planning to make people think that Romney was a rapist. Would the Washington Post ever print the sentence “Obama contends that Romney has a long dark history of sexual violence?” Of course not. So where is the line where something becomes too outrageous and too false to print? Maybe the media thinks that Obama having no respect for business is a legitimate accusation that ought to be aired. Fine. But where does it stop? How absurd does something have to be? If no realistic situations come to mind it means there has to be a stronger filter.

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