When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.
It reminded me of Michael Hirschorn's Atlantic piece on how internet has killed our conception of truth. When fact-checking lies that are on-their-face outrageous (or what they do on The Daily Show every night) is equivalent to the apex of journalism, we have a lot more problems with our discourse than Friedman is letting on.