Jonah Goldberg

"After reviewing hundreds of hours of 'Shark Week' footage and consulting with leading ichthyologists, CBS News can now confirm that the so-called 'Land Shark' made famous on 'Saturday Night Live' is a hoax," Katie Couric assured viewers. Meanwhile, over on MSNBC, the crack news team continued its in-depth exposé on "SNL's" faked assassination of the Little Rascals' Buckwheat. Sleuths working for The New York Times revealed that not only was John Belushi not an Olympic decathlete, but his touted regimen of cigarettes and "little chocolate donuts" was, according to experts in sports medicine, "not even remotely nutritious."

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

Meanwhile, a report by "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft that the physics of "SpongeBob SquarePants" "make no sense at all" has left elementary schools and day-care centers dealing with a huge spike in "acting out" by devastated viewers.

These are just highlights from the fact-checking frenzy overtaking the news media in the wake of CNN's report on Oct. 5 that a parody mocking President Barack Obama wasn't entirely accurate.

OK, OK. I'm just having fun at CNN's expense, as were a lot of people this week, because the network really did take it upon itself to defend Obama from "allegations" leveled in a "Saturday Night Live" skit. The show opened with a fake (duh) address from Obama, played by Fred Armisen. "When you look at my record, it's very clear what I have done so far. And that is nothing," he said. "Almost one year and nothing to show for it. You don't believe me? You think I'm making it up? Take a look at this checklist." The pretend Obama then goes through a more-than-accurate-enough checklist of things Obama hasn't accomplished (closing Guantanamo Bay, etc.).

CNN seemed aghast. Wolf Blitzer, host of CNN's "Situation Room," asked, "How much truth is behind all the laughs? Stand by for our reality check."

"They essentially cast the leader of the free world as a do-nothing president," Blitzer explained. "Even though 'SNL' deals in comedy, what they said about the president rings true for a lot of you, apparently. So, did the show accurately capture a mood, or did it go off track for comedic effect? Let's bring in CNN's Kareen Wynter. She's checking the facts for us. All right, Kareen, what are you finding out?"

From there, Wynter "reported" her findings (with the help of a "study" from the St. Petersburg Times' PolitiFact unit) as if the 'SNL' skit was an RNC attack ad.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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