Glenn Greenwald has been writing about Time magazine (and the aforementioned Joe Klein) and how they have resorted to really poor reporting. In Klein's case, he passed on bad information from GOP insiders as if it were fact and then refused to investigate the truth or fiction of the allegation in the legislation itself. As Leighton pointed out, the WaPo demonstrated equally bad journalism by giving the "Obama as Muslim" rumor some credibility by repeating it. Greenwald describes the failing of the media better than I can:
"This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims -- particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear -- to any critical scrutiny.The Daily Show has mocked this process very effectively noting that you can simply say that "some say that Jon Stewart has sex with goats" and then note that "others disagree" and leave it at that--as if every side has equal legitimacy. In that context, the holocaust deniers share equal billing with the documented historians, and the creation scientist is perfectly equal to the biologist who studies the process of evolution every day.
For various reasons, they simply will not investigate such claims and, when warranted, identify such claims as false. The most they are willing to do is simply write down each side's claims and treat them equally, even when one side is blatantly lying. GOP operatives know that this is how the press functions and thus know that they can easily get away with spewing lies, and can even recruit the media into helpfully spreading them (using the predominant 'he-said/she-said' template). That's the same process that led us into Iraq, kept us there for so long, protected endless presidential lawbreaking and enabled all sorts of fact-free smears."
But, as Greenwald notes, there are some good examples out there, and this NYT expose of Giuliani's constant lying on the stump is one.
Had this story been reported in accordance with the prevailing establishment media norms -- the type practiced by Time and defended by Romano -- it would have simply been presented as a mindless recitation of what "each side claims", as in: "Some claim that Giuliani has exaggerated his record of accomplishments as Mayor, while Giuliani campaign aides insist that his statements are accurate." But Cooper took the next step -- the one that distinguishes the basic reporting function from the role of propagandists and stenographers: namely, he investigated the competing claims and identified which ones were factually true and which ones were factually false.