Zach Roth over at Talking Points Memo gloats over a number of media outlets' credulity in initially accepting Sanford's Appalachian Trail excuse and gives his site a well-deserved pat on the back for not being one of them. (If the whole U.S. attorneys scandal didn't make you believe Josh Marshall has the best bullsh*t detector in journalism, the Sanford story certainly should.) But then he makes this point:
Part of this is structural. There's almost no acceptable way for a mainstream reporter to explicitly tell readers that the information being put out by a powerful office-holder may be false or misleading. But the only way that this structural flaw will change is if individual reporters are willing to stick out their necks to change it.
Until then, people will read blogs for stories like these.
I think it's worth remembering that it was a mainstream reporter, namely The State's Gina Smith, who actually busted Sanford at the Atlanta airport. And it was The State that then contacted Sanford's office and told them the paper had emails between Sanford and his mistress in Argentina--which led to Sanford scheduling his press conference and confessing his affair. In other words, without the MSM, the Sanford story probably wouldn't have been broken--at least not yesterday.