A new Pew report on the state of the media exposes one of the worst-kept secrets in politics: reporters are losing their power to frame presidential contests for the average citizen.

“Campaign reporters were acting primarily as megaphones, rather than investigators, of the assertions put forward by the candidates and other political partisans,” according to the report. “Only about a quarter of statements in the media about the character and records of the presidential candidates originated with journalists in the 2012 race, while twice that many came from political partisans.”…

Regardless of the reasons, what’s clear from the Pew study is that the political media has less ability to play its traditional referee role than ever before. That, many people would say, is a good thing since distrust of the media is now rampant among partisans of both parties. Without the negative influence of the media, the argument goes, people can focus on the issues and where the two parties stand.