STOP THE MADNESS…. As the media continues to find the discussion of lipsticks and pigs fascinating, I’m glad that even Time’s Mark Halperin, hardly a reflexive Democrat, has had it. From CNN last night:

“Stop the madness. I think, with all due respect to the program’s focus on, listen to David just said. I think this is the press just absolutely playing into the McCain campaign’s crocodile tears. […]

“They knew exactly what he was saying. It’s an expression. And this is a victory for the McCain campaign in the sense that every day they can make this a pig fight in the mud. It’s good for them because it’s reducing Barack Obama’s message even more. But I think this is a low point in the day and one of the low days of our collective coverage of this campaign. To spend even a minute on this expression, I think, is amazing and outrageous.”

To his credit, CNN’s Anderson Cooper did, in fact, change the subject, and began some discussion on the McCain campaign’s literally daily lying about Sarah Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere. Amazingly, Halperin took a firm line on this, too.

“It’s another thing that, again, I’m embarrassed about our profession for. She should be held more accountable for that. The Bridge to Nowhere thing is outrageous. And if you press them on it, they’ll fall because they know they can’t defend what they’re saying. They’re staying it on the stump as a core part of their message, it’s in their advertising.

“I’m not saying the press should be out to get John McCain and Sarah Palin. But if a core part of their message is something that every journalism organization in the country has looked at and says it’s demonstrably false, again, we’re not doing our jobs if we just treat this as one of many things that’s happening. […]

“The other three people who are on the national ticket have been scrutinized for months and in cases, years. We’ve got less than 60 days to do this. We’d better get about doing it. And if she doesn’t cooperate in that more than she has, the public should be told that clearly.”

Credit where credit is due — Mark Halperin’s assessment couldn’t have been better.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.