Lets look back to the tools that the last century left us. For instance here are two ethical rules that apply directly to this case. They were adopted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors of April 28, 1928; and yes, the rules are written for and about newspapers, but we can surely apply them to today’s media as well. And Meet the Press should “heed the advice of the old man.”

Responsibility— The right of a newspaper to attract and hold readers is restricted by nothing but considerations of public welfare. The use of newspaper makes of the share of public attention it gains serves to determine its sense of responsibility, which it shares with every member of its staff.

Accuracy— Good faith with the reader is the foundation of all journalism worthy of the name. By every consideration of good faith, a newspaper is constrained to be truthful. It is not to be excused for lack of thoroughness, or accuracy within its control, or failure to obtain command of these essential qualities.

Meet the Press is held to a high standard, but so are all journalists. Providing accurate information to the public is fundamental and must not be excused for lack of thoroughness or control. When guests come on to Meet the Press knowing what they can get away with by distorting the facts, they will. When putting on partisans who only tell half of the story, and not correcting them or properly representing the facts – you leave the public to make an awkward decision.

An ill informed public may believe the disinformation and repeat it, and often if something is repeated enough, in a sense it does become true. Then to correct it is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. The public also might not believe what they’re hearing. Made angry by this, they might disconnect themselves from the political process entirely, uttering “the heck with them all.” A disengaged public hinders the nation’s voice, and everyone loses.

It’s the duty of the host to hold the guests accountable and it’s the duty of the public to hold the host accountable, and that’s exactly what this effort is trying to accomplish. Fact checking must be a mandatory second line of defense. Now as we enter a new era of journalism, will Meet the Press respect the principles on which journalism is based? Will they use the tools left to them by not only the newspaper editors of 1928 but by people like Tim Russert and David Brinkley? Or will they leave the work, like fact checking, to the people – to amateurs like us…