09/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Alter: "Smear Gap" Between McCain And Obama

This is hardly the nastiest campaign in recent memory. But it's not shaping up as the "civil" contest that both candidates promised either. Instead, we're seeing the emergence of a "smear gap". John McCain making stuff up about Barack Obama, and Obama trying to figure out how hard he should hit back.

As usual, news organizations are deeply afraid to say that one side is more negative than the other. Doing so sounds "unfair." It's much easier, and less controversial, to say that "both candidates" are being negative. That would be "balanced", but also untrue. ...

Obama has negative ads airing in more than a dozen states below the radar of the national media. One ad, in Ohio, links McCain to the 8,200 lost jobs at DHL, the German-owned overnight delivery service. That goes too far. McCain's support for a merger involving DHL hardly makes him culpable for the job loss. But overall, and to his credit, Obama has not engaged in anywhere near the number of falsehoods as McCain.

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