Paul Farhi's Sept. 7 news story, "Two Political Ads Share More Than Fame and Controversy," did not assess the extent to which the media were responsible for the dissemination and impact of the Willie Horton and Swift boat ads. These ads escaped being held to any standard of fairness because cable TV news is not held to such standards either.

The degree to which cable news outlets can saturate our minds with half-truths or fallacies threatens our democracy. We have witnessed acknowledgments of error from more legitimate and balanced print media organizations, long after editors realized their errors and past the point at which the damage from errant reporting could be undone. Cable does not engage in such self-policing.

TIMOTHY KJER

Towson, Md.

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I commend the Sept. 3 front-page story "GOP Prism Distorts Some Kerry Positions" by Glenn Kessler and Dan Morgan, with research from Madonna Lebling.

Too often the media simply report what is said, not whether it is accurate. We need the resources of a free and educated press to sort out the distortions of fact, partial quotes, misstatements and other inaccuracies emanating from presidential campaigns. This is the only way to counter the tendency of the electorate to believe whatever is repeated the most and the loudest.

CARYL BARON

New York