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Sarah Palin and Jon Stewart agree on this: News media are bad influence

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Scott McCloskey/The News Register/AP

(Read caption) Sarah Palin (r.) campaigns for GOP Senate candidate John Raese, on Oct. 30, in Wheeling, W.Va.

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A familiar bogeyman leapt back into the news this weekend – the media itself. Tarring of the media and its election coverage came from Fox News commentator Sarah Palin, who called a team of Alaskan TV newsfolk “corrupt bastards,” as well as Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who closed his Saturday rally on the Washington Mall by saying the 24-hour news and media machine was “broke.” He coined a new term of derision for it: “conflictinator.”

Even the nonpartisan Wesleyan Media Project added some fuel to the critique: This election cycle has the most negative political ads ever, with more than half being pure attack ads, according to its new data released Monday. Many campaigns count on the far-out content to propel the ads into the media spotlight.

In the wake of such a barrage, Sunday's news talk shows had a field day of self-dissection. On NBC’s "Hardball with Chris Matthews," the host parried with columnist and Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington in a high-pitched – if friendly – frenzy of proposed solutions. She called for no more demonizing by media personalities; he laughed at the idea that people should not argue. And The New York Times ran an op-ed piece chiding Mr. Stewart for berating the messenger rather than the message.

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