For whatever reason, the media seems to offer candidates a certain leeway on false claims made on the stump, but once they start lying in television ads, reporters are less accommodating.
A variety of news outlets, most notably the Wall Street Journal, have taken a firm line on the ad's claim about Palin and the infamous pork project, blasting the campaign for its fairly obvious efforts at deception. Yglesias added, though, "The ultimate test of what matters isn't one-off articles but campaign narratives."
And what might such a narrative look like? Josh Marshall has an idea.
[W]e seem to be witnessing the first stirrings of a backlash and a dawning realization that the 'Sarah Palin' we've heard so much about over the last few days is a fraud of truly comical dimensions.The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic put it today that's just "a naked lie." ... On earmarks she's an even bigger crock. On the trail with McCain they're telling everyone that she's some kind of earmark slayer when actually, when she was mayor and governor, in both offices, she requested and got more earmarks than virtually any city or state in the country.
Think about that. On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth -- or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth -- is anything but a lie. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But just go down the list. None of them bear out.
That's a rough assessment, but it's also a reasonable one. From the troopergate scandal to the Bridge to Nowhere, from Palin's connection to Ted Stevens to the eBay story, from her hunger for earmarks to her "national security experience" through the Alaska National Guard, the McCain campaign is presenting a bill of goods, hoping voters won't know the difference.
Eight years ago, the media didn't hesitate to trash Al Gore as some kind of unreliable serial exaggerator, whose word simply wasn't reliable. Indeed, reporters actually seemed to take pleasure in it. As it happens, Gore's purported "exaggerations" were largely a media-created fantasy, reported by those being egged on by the Bush campaign.
Eight years later, the McCain/Palin ticket has actually earned the label, but it's apparently impolite to acknowledge this out loud.