But there’s a real cost to allowing these assertions into print unchecked and unscrutinized. Precisely because this is an important point, considerable journalistic energy has gone into adjudicating this dispute, yielding the conclusion that the Senate Democrats are overpromising and the GOP leadership is mostly full of it. If the Times were to come to a different, credible conclusion, great—that’s a gain for readers’ understanding of the issue. But by reprising the he-said, she-said without so much as hinting that there might actually be an answer, the story undercuts all that effort to find out what the truth is—and in the process, suggests that all answers are equivalent. We need coverage that’s better than that.

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Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.