Jonah Goldberg

"Hi there, Wolf," perked Wynter. "Well, some observers say, sure, we are just talking comedy here, but that, on many points, well, 'SNL' couldn't have been more off the mark."

Almost as annoying as the report's premise is how tendentious it was. Quoting PolitiFact's Bill Adair, Wynter explained, "As for health care, Adair says 'SNL' also got it wrong, since that legislation is still stalled in Congress."

Huh? When presidents promise to get something done but then can't get it through Congress (never mind a Congress run by the same party), it's routine to say that the president hasn't gotten it done. Not so, says CNN, which I guess means George W. Bush never failed to enact Social Security reform.

Such Gunga Din-like water-carrying for Obama would be unseemly if the 'SNL' skit had been a political attack ad. But, again, it wasn't.

And you don't have to be Bush or Sarah Palin to be annoyed by the fact that CNN never thought it necessary to fact-check 'SNL' when it attacked other politicians. Just ask Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter. (This just in: Apparently it's not true that Carter was transformed into a 90-foot-tall behemoth in a nuclear power plant mishap involving some spilled Pepsi.)

Still, there might be something more serious involved here. For good or ill, Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" and Stephen Colbert's "Colbert Report" have an ever-increasing influence on political debate. Meanwhile, cable news has been evolving ever more rapidly into infotainment. CNN even hired alleged comedian D.L. Hughley to host a show. Fox News' legitimately funny "Red Eye" is becoming a ratings sensation.

Considering the evolving -- or, rather, devolving -- standards of the legacy media in the wake of Dan Rather's self-immolation, maybe CNN is just ahead of the curve? After all, if it's OK for the press to report something that is "fake but accurate," why should "SNL" escape notice when it does the same thing?

That's something to noodle on. In the meantime, I have to get back to my stunning exposé on a public school system that has allowed a fellow named Bart Simpson to stay in the fourth grade for more than two decades.

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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