EDITORIAL: Journalists need to hold politicians in check

All politicians lie. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike.

At some point it would be nice if national news outlets, especially the major news networks, would acknowledge this.

One of the many roles of the news media is to keep an eye on those in power and call them out for abusing that power or lying to the American people. It's vital that news outlets call politicians out so the electorate can make informed decisions come Election Day. Otherwise, Americans are fed a buffet of unchecked lies and distortions by their leaders, leading to a dysfunctional government and unsolved problems like we see today.

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Wednesday. He achieved his goal of firing up conservative voters, but portions of his speech were at best misleading and at worst full of cynical lies.

Whether it was criticizing President Barack Obama for cutting the same $716 bilion from Medicare Ryan himself put in his budget, blaming Obama for the closing of a General Motors plant that really closed under former President George W. Bush, or attacking the president for abandoning the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan when he himself did the same, Ryan misled the average voter.

While some print and online news outlets like the Washington Post and the Associated Press did a fine job of fact-checking Ryan's speech, the TV news networks, where most people watched Ryan's speech, did nothing close to that. Too worried about alienating a section of their audience, the news networks would rather focus on fluff rather than substance.

The media need to call politicians out on their lies, whether it's calling out Republicans for taking Obama's "You didn't build that" quote out of context or a pro-Obama Super PAC insinuating Mitt Romney was to blame for someone's death.

The lack of substantive debate and the web of lies that surrounds Washington is choking our political system to death. Politicians would rather talk about fluff because the real issues are tough to talk about. They know they can get away with it, though, because most media outlets won't call them out.

It's time to change that.