This is the other danger, one that both Nyhan and Klein note—the possibility that by focusing on McCaughey personally, we may overlook the deeper patterns she has been able to exploit. As Klein writes, the problem is that “McCaughey isn’t just a liar. She’s an exciting liar”:

That’s not very helpful in the policy debate, but it’s very useful in the media debate… McCaughey might be something of a uniquely deceptive individual, but she’s taking advantage of a structural weakness in the system.

The upshot is that we need to address that “structural weakness”—not, at this point, keep competing to see who can do the best job of filleting McCaughey.

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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.