President Barack Obama’s appearance Wednesday in the White House briefing room to present a documented rebuttal of suspicions that he was not born on U.S. soil was more than just a surprise. It was a decisive new turn in the centuries-long American history of political accusation and innuendo.

By directly and coolly engaging a debate with his most fevered critics, Obama offered the most unmistakable validation ever to the idea that we are living in an era of public life with no referee — and no common understandings between fair and unfair, between relevant and trivial, or even between facts and fantasy.

Were you guys born in 2008, or something?  You don’t remember all the conspiracy theories — advanced by Dan Rather, no less — about Bush getting special treatment when he was a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard?  You don’t remember “I did not have sexual relations with that woman?”  The John Edwards – Rielle Hunter story? 

It’s only when someone comes up with a crazy notion about a beloved Democrat that the press dismisses it — even if it’s real, like when Newsweek spiked the story about Clinton having sex with an intern.  The media as a whole tried desperately to ignore the bombshell story about John Edwards cheating on his terminally ill wife even as he used her for a campaign prop, despite all the evidence, but a similar story about John McCain with no evidence (and certainly no love child) got Page One treatment by the NYT. And in 2004, the Swift Vet campaign forced John Kerry to retract multiple claims about his service and his behavior after coming home, despite receiving little to no support from the media.

The age of innuendo didn’t start this week, but the age of the MSM deciding what’s innuendo and what’s a real story is slowly dying.

UPDATE:  Andy McCarthy asks: given how trivially easy it was for Obama to produce the document, where were the indignant questions to Obama from the press on this?

The whole thing is especially ironic and galling to us Illinoisans, who remember how the MSM sued to have the child custody hearings of his Senate opponent’s divorce proceedings released, an extraordinary violation of his privacy rights.

That’s right: for Obama, the MSM doesn’t even ask for a long-form birth certificate, let alone transcripts of his grades, law review articles, his relationship with terrorist Bill Ayers, his Communist mentor, etc.  For those who oppose him, no stone must go unturned, no matter how private! 

Did Sarah Palin write a book?  Quick, assign a dozen fact-checkers!  No need to review Obama’s book, we’re sure everything he’s ever done is wonderful and perfect.

Sickening.  Just absolutely sickening.