Off the bat, note that it’s not like “liberals” and “media elites” were the only ones who wanted to move past Wright, and fight the election on ground that actually had some bearing on matters of policy. Palin’s boss did, too. On his say-so, the following ad never ran:
Consider, too, the only theory under which Wright becomes relevant. Despite Obama’s extensive public record on matters racial and political, Wright represented Obama’s only linkage to the more controversial elements of America’s black community, elements which, in all other respects, Mr. Obama had conspicuously avoided, for his entire life.
Wright was a weak way to make a weaker argument, one likely to inflame passions out of proportion with its merit, and otherwise distract the American populace from matters of grave importance — like the collapsing economy. If we conceive of journalism as a way to mediate the flow of information and the cultivation of an educated populace, and not as a campaign adjunct with a discrete agenda, then the journalist’s job is precisely to avoid these kinds of stories. Politicians may fire as they bear (and reap the consequences), but journalists should function as gatekeepers. Someone has to.