McCain is running on his foreign policy credentials. Clinton is running on her readiness on day one/commander-in-chief credentials. McCain’s questionable grasp of the fundamentals in the Middle East (or, if you consider Todd’s even more disturbing “truncated talking point” theory, his effort to purposely blur these fundamentals—Shiite, Sunni, Al Qaeda, Iranians, all the same—in the minds of the American electorate) is at least as urgent or “pounce”-worthy (dare I suggest more so, particularly in light of recent developments?) as Clinton exaggerating an account of a trip she took a dozen years ago. And by the way, which is it? Did McCain have a senior moment(s) or is he deliberately “blurring” two groups? Shouldn’t reporters push for a clarification of that?

Of the reporters who have copped to Todd’s the media will let McCain get away with it mentality, perhaps most disturbing was Susan Page of USA Today who on MSNBC went so far as to offer a (feeble) excuse for McCain: “Most Americans can’t tell you the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, either.”

And it’s definitely going to stay that way —which may be precisely what McCain wants— if the people charged with informing “most Americans” continue to do their job selectively.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.