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They have blinked, as Richard Cohen reiterates today. A good contrast with Hillary Clinton:

Can you imagine the reaction of the press corps if Clinton had given the audience a hi-ya-sailor wink? Can you imagine the feverish blogging across the political spectrum if Clinton had claimed credit for stopping a bridge that, in fact, had set her heart aflutter? What if she showed she didn't know squat about the Constitution, if she could not tell Katie Couric what newspapers or magazines she reads or if she claimed intimacy with foreign relations based on sighting Russia through binoculars?

My view is that the Palin candidacy is such a farce the mainstream media simply do not know what to do. The sane response is to dismiss it as a joke, to reveal the vacuity and mendacity of her record, to demand an open-ended press conference, and to hash out the ignorance and bigotry and crass populism she channels. But that would not be "balanced," would it?

The press would - gasp - be accused of bias. We would stand convicted of insufficient deference. And we would be shamed for asking "unspeakable" factual questions. The question the media has to ask of ourselves: are our own precious egos and reputation wirth more than doing our actual jobs?

We have less than a month to redeem ourselves. Demand a press conference with Palin for as long as it takes to get through all the questions. Demand release of all McCain's and Obama's and Biden's and Palin's health records, especially dealing with McCain's cancer risk, Biden's aneurysm history and Palin's bizarre fifth pregnancy. These are not luxuries for an election campaign. They are the minimal requirements of a minimally functioning press corps, doing its job to get as much information about these people out to the voters.

(Photo: Sarah Palin by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty.)

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