more on presidential lies

David Greenberg has an excellent article in Columbia Journalism Review entitled Calling a Lie a Lie. It’s about the lies presidents tell, and which ones journalists pick up on and pursue. Here’s the money graf:

To the axiom that journalists love lies, however, there’s one important corollary — and it helps explain Bush’s Teflon coating. Reporters like only certain lies. Perversely, those tend to be the relatively trivial ones, involving personal matters: Clinton’s deceptions about his sex life; Al Gore’s talk of having inspired Love Story; John Kerry’s failure to correct misimpressions that he’s Irish. Here, the press can strut its skepticism without positioning itself ideologically.

The lies reporters dislike, in contrast, center on what are usually more important matters: claims about public policy — taxes, abortion, the environment — where raising questions of truthfulness can seem awfully close to taking sides in a partisan debate. Most of Bush’s lies have fallen in this demilitarized zone, where journalists fear to tread.

Read the whole thing.