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HuffPost News Hunt: Keeping the Media Honest When It Comes to Covering McCain

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It's suddenly become fashionable to critique the role the media played in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Six years after it could have made a real difference.

Are we seeing history repeat itself in the run-up to Election Day?

The same journalists rendered "too deferential" by George Bush's soaring post-9/11 approval ratings, now seem intent on providing cover for John McCain, whose election would mean a perpetuation of Bush's disastrous policies.

The last thing we need is another round of media hand wringing four years down the road, with the 2013 version of Katie Couric bemoaning yet another "embarrassing chapter" in American journalism.

To try to keep that from happening, the Huffington Post's OffTheBus is launching the John McCain News Hunt, an investigative project designed to get the real story on the media's coverage of McCain -- and document the ways the media is giving him a free ride.

And we need your help.

For the next 7 days, OffTheBus, in partnership with NewsTrust, a great social news sharing site, will be evaluating news articles and opinion pieces -- as well as radio and TV spots -- about McCain. This analysis will make it possible for us to identify the journalists and media outlets that are providing the best -- and the worst -- coverage of McCain. It will also spotlight the areas of McCain coverage that are deficient, areas that OffTheBus' citizen-journalists can then focus on.

But this kind of assessment will only work if it is wide-ranging -- which is where you come in.

We'd love it if you could put in some time over the next week reviewing McCain coverage -- ideally evaluating 10-15 stories between today and next Sunday. NewsTrust's innovative news ratings feeds make it easy for anyone to rate the news by evaluating an article or a TV news report on its fairness, sourcing, context, and other core principles of good journalism.

For the McCain News Hunt, NewsTrust will provide HuffPost readers with a constantly updating feed of McCain coverage from traditional and new media sources. You can also upload stories that you come across, which will be added to the review mix.

Click here to sign up. Once you get an OffTheBus/NewsTrust account you can start reviewing McCain material on the NewsTrust site. You'll also be able to review stories directly on HuffPost. Every story posting on our site also links to NewsTrust. Look for the green/blue NT symbol, click it, and access the NewsTrust tools without leaving HuffPost.

You can see the latest results of the News Hunt by checking out the NewsTrust page on McCain.

The more stories you review, the more clear-eyed our look at the way the media are covering McCain will be. So, whatever time you can give to this would be a big help. You can do it any time you have a free moment, whether it's first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or in the middle of the night.

Let's do what we can to make sure there will be no after-the-fact books about how the media "enabled" John McCain to hide behind his phony reputation as a maverick and win the presidency.

Sign up for the News Hunt and help keep the media honest. Our future is riding on it.