The Washington Post's media maven, Howard Kurtz, notes that the persistence of the "death panel" reports shows the infirmity of the mainstream media:
For once, mainstream journalists did not retreat to the studied neutrality of quoting dueling antagonists.They tried to perform last rites on the ludicrous claim about President Obama's death panels, telling Sarah Palin, in effect, you've got to quit making things up.But it didn't matter. The story refused to die.The crackling, often angry debate over health-care reform has severely tested the media's ability to untangle a story of immense complexity. In many ways, news organizations have risen to the occasion; in others they have become agents of distortion. But even when they report the facts, they have had trouble influencing public opinion.
And that goes for the MSM across the spectrum, as far right as National Review. Canary in the mine for political discourse? Or has it always been thus?