This is about as good an explanation as I’ve ever read about how making someone deny he’s a goatfucker works as a campaign tactic because of the unwitting cooperation of stupid-ass political reporters:
From MIKE PETERSON, Glens Falls, NY: Britt Robson asks, “Is it the rightful job of reporters to try to verify allegations or implications of a personal nature that surface in a partisan mud-slinging battle?”
Absolutely not. They should just pass them along to readers (and voters) without any attempt to verify them. This is the shape of modern reporting: Pass it along, and try to balance it with something roughly equivalent and equally unverified from the other camp.
Then send your intern to the mall to ask people if they’ve heard about it, and if it’s going to influence their vote in November. Run a political cartoon making a joke about it. Run a story saying it has become the hot topic of the blogosphere (make sure you use the word “blogosphere,” preferably in the hed).
One quibble with this truly excellent analysis: I don’t understand Mr. Peterson’s hostility toward bloggers in the midst of all of this. Don’t sneer at “the blogosphere” for putting out bait when the real problem is your jumping up to gobble it like you’ve been starved for chum all this time.