At a town hall forum at the DNC yesterday, Obama was asked where the lies about health care reform are coming from. After laughing and making reference to "certain" news channels (he didn't mention them by name, but we all know which ones), this is what Obama supposedly said:
"…I have to say, part of the reason it spreads is the way reporting is done today. If somebody puts out misinformation, 'Obama's Creating Death Panels,' then the way the news report comes across is: 'Today such-and-such accused President Obama of putting forward death panels. The White House responded that that wasn't true.' And then they go on to the next story. And what they don't say is, 'In fact, it isn't true.'
"You know, it's fine to have a debate back and forth — he said, she said — except when somebody else is just not even telling remotely the truth. Then you should say in your reports, 'Oh, and by the way, that's just not true.'
"But that doesn't happen often enough."
This is a problem that has been noted by many, for many years. Even when it is not propogating, the media, rather than reporting the facts, chooses instead to report what both sides say are the facts, as if both positions are equally valid. It exaults fairness over accuracy.
If Republicans said there were flying unicorns invading Oregon, and Democrats said there wasn't a single flying unicorn in Oregon or anywhere else, the media — even the better journalism outlets — would report "Republicans say there are flying unicorns in Oregon; Democrats deny this", rather than reporting "We've investigated it, and there a no flying unicorns in Oregon."
So what Obama said isn't new. But it's new and interesting that he said it.