For better or for worse, journalistic discourse is changing. Newspapers, whichever stance they take on an issue, are going to have to start exercising their judgment and calling a lie a lie. That was what they should have done in the summer of 2004, when a small core of propagandists began spreading lies about John Kerry, and that is what they ought to do now. And the public will just have to sort out which newspapers they find more trustworthy.This runs into the same problem that blogs and cable news are falling into. People read the sources that confirm their own beliefs, and decry anything that differs as propaganda from the other side. Then again, conservatives are already convinced that the NYT is a radical left-wing publication, so what can they lose? I don't see where a paper will get a reputation for being tough on both sides, if for no other reason than that right now, there are a lot more lies coming from the right than the left. The left isn't completely above distorting facts for their purposes, but I think an independent fact-checking would fall harder on GOP claims, causing cries of liberal bias.
Is there a way around this? I don't know. But something needs to be done, since the media is failing the public. Climate change deniers are growing in number, even as the science becomes more incontrovertible.