Cesspool of misinformation?

The official Old Media party line, among the few remaining true luddites not yet laid off by their newspaper employers, is that New Media is a cesspool of misinformation while print is a rock of traditional credibility.

But the progress of the crackpot story about China drilling for oil off the coast of Cuba -- repeated by no less than Vice President Dick Cheney -- should knock a few holes in that argument.

AP quotes Cheney, caught repeating the misinformation, as saying he picked it up from print newspaper columnist George Will.

Andrew Tilghman -- a reporter for the Washington news blog TPMMuckracker -- tracks the false story to "an inexplicable spate of letters to the editor at small and regional daily newspapers." It would appear that print editors were duped by a bit of astroturfing that circulated a lie for political gain.

And he churned up a highly speculative newspaper lede that may have played a role in getting all this off to a roll.

This is the ugly truth about "freedom of speech, and of the press." It is full of trash. Misinformation abounds. Thomas Jefferson, often the victim of vicious lies printed by early newspapers, understood this when he said, "If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter." Because eventually the truth will out. And when lies are circulated by newspapers, perhaps a blog or two will be there to correct them.