Finally, Stephanopoulos did have one more good moment. He showed a video in which Sarah Palin “seemed to share Senator Obama’s position” on “talking out loud about perhaps going into Pakistan,” saying in Philadelphia last week: “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should.” McCain answered: “She shares my view that we will do whatever is necessary. The problem is, you don’t announce it.” A moment later, after a follow-up, McCain was adding in extenuation: “She was in a conversation with some young man that - or whoever it was.” The problem McCain doesn’t recognize is that the American people have a right to know under what conditions their president thinks it right to commit acts of war on the other side of a foreign border. This very question is the gravamen, after all, of the Bush doctrine that Palin seemed never to have heard of in her interview with Charles Gibson.

By definition, it’s hard to confront people who make careers of evasiveness. But it can be done. Katie Couric showed the way when she refused to take flight in the face of Sarah Palin’s meanderings last week. Some journalists have gotten off the McCain bandwagon, realizing that Mr. Straight Talk, profane, gossipy, blunt, was taking them for one ride after another. Stephanopoulos himself has been tougher on him before. I can’t think of any good reason why he let up now.

P. S. The competition was no better. On Meet the Press, McCain operative Steve Schmidt declared that his candidate “called for the firing of Don Rumsfeld.” Tom Brokaw did not challenge this statement. Crooks and Liars gives several examples of McCain explicitly opposing Rumsfeld’s defenestration.

The same site also notes that Brokaw said: “[W]e continue to poll on who is best equipped to be Commander in Chief, John McCain continues to lead in that category, despite the criticism from Barack Obama, by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC/WSJ poll.” But the NBC/WSJ poll didn’t ask about being the commander in chief, claims Crooks and Liars. I checked; they’re right. What’s going on over at NBC?

Todd Gitlin , who teaches journalism at Columbia, is the author of a new book, Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street.