Talking about the issues is one thing, character assassination is quite another.
Two particular items come to mind. Both have been a part of the anti-Obama campaign for some time now and have made the rounds on the internet with some impact. One is the image of the Obamas during a ceremony in which they are pictured with their left hands over their hearts. It is a mirror image craftily done by a faker. The other is the video of Michelle Obama supposedly saying "All this for a damned flag." I even fell for that one for a while until I did some serious checking into its validity. While it is indeterminate what she said to the President, the fact is no professional lip readers were ever hired to verify she said that. Professional lip readers have officially stated that it is nearly impossible to determine what the First Lady actually said, but from her and the President's reaction it was probably a personal moment between the two and not related to the ceremony that was taking place.
As a professional blogger and retired news editor I know the importance of getting the facts and story straight. On this site I try generally to keep to the policies coming out of Washington D.C. and State houses while letting the sewer dwellers play in the character assassination game. I may not like Obama's policies and some of the actions he has taken or his genuinely European socialist ideas, but to attack him or anyone else as a human being, especially with lies simply destroys any credibility of the accusing person, website, paper or magazine doing so, and it makes the job of those of us out there trying to mete out the facts a whole lot harder. Does that mean a blogger or journalist can't express their personal opinions? Of course not. That is how blogging and the editorial page was born. But, we must never mistake personal views for news fact and I'm afraid that since the introduction of the internet and 24hr cable news stations that thinly veiled line has been crossed to the point of blurring the two into one media.
Since this situation isn't likely to change anytime soon then it is left up to the intellect of the reader, listener or viewer to be able to distinguish fact from hype, personal view from actual news and expressions of distaste over policy versus character assassination. It will require the people to do their own homework to seek out the facts of any situation instead of relying on personal trust in the article, blog or news feature. I can only hope we are up to that kind of scrutiny.