On Friday on "The View," generally friendly territory for politicians, one co-host, Joy Behar, criticized [McCain's] new advertisements. "We know that those two ads are untrue," Ms. Behar said. "They are lies. And yet you, at the end of it, say, 'I approve these messages.' Do you really approve them?"
The problem? The Times doesn't tell you that (gasp!) Behar's a liberal.
What Bernstein must have forgotten to write in his shock is anything that points to Behar being wrong in her accusation. Which makes sense, because she's absolutely right, and there is no real way to go about disputing it. The two ads in question are the one's in which he accuses Obama of supporting sex education for Kindergarterners, and of calling Sarah Palin a "pig" (as in, lipstick on a....). If you watch the relevant clip, it becomes painfully obvious that McCain has no real defense here. After being told by Behar that his ads are "lies", McCain awkwardly stumbles out "no they are not lies", before immediately trying to tell the hosts that Obama runs negative ads too. Then a different host reminds him that he himself used the "lipstick on a pig" phrase to describe Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan. McCain responded that he was talking about a policy, not Clinton herself, but the hosts reminded him that Obama was talking about change (and McCain's, not Palin's, change to boot!).
The point being that, Behar, liberal or not, levied an accurate charge. McCain's ads are lies. Phrasing it as a typical "liberals-say/conservatives-say" dispute obscures the truth of the matter, which is that John McCain released two ads that are flagrantly untrue, and when called on the matter, he continued to lie without reservation. And the article continues to give several "independent" speakers (and some not-so-independent ones, like Orrin Hatch) who verify that McCain is fabricating in his ads.
I'm sorry that Professor Bernstein doesn't think that the New York Times obfuscated the issue sufficiently -- but to my mind, clarity is a feature in journalism, not a bug.