Love the bit at the end here about how this smear exposes Obama’s above-the-fray shtick as the cynical Hopenchange branding nonsense that it is. I also like the added emphasis on “a lot of taxes,” although Think Progress or TPM or whoever is no doubt working up a post right now explaining why the millions he’s paid over the years don’t really qualify as “a lot.”

Serious question: Should HuffPo have published Reid’s initial accusation about the mysterious Bain investor who allegedly called him about Romney? WaPo wonders:

In this case, the dissemination of Reid’s words is responsible, compulsory. It would be a shame, after all, if Reid’s constituents passed ignorant of the evidentiary standards to which he subjects his mudslinging…

In a world rigged by the Erik Wemple Blog, the legal system would be prejudiced in the opposite direction: Publications that failed to publish any and all false and defamatory charges made by public officials would be subject to criminal and civil liability. Professor Clay Calvert, the director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, says, “The real story is the fact that Reid made the allegation in the first place. The second story is whether the allegation is true.”

Yeah, I agree, albeit with misgivings. Reid’s being clever here in using his political stature to push this smear out: “Some anonymous guy told me Romney doesn’t pay his taxes” isn’t a newsworthy story, but “some anonymous guy told me Romney doesn’t pay his taxes, says Senate majority leader” assuredly is. If one of the most powerful Democrats in the country is being this much of a cretin, I want to know about it — even though publicizing his cretinism inadvertently spreads the allegation of Romney’s tax evasion. I think HuffPo had to run with it, even if spreading the allegation was their goal.