The hypocrisy takes your breath away. After months and months of ”Mitt Romney is a MORMON” coverage and endless insinuation that Romney’s faith will be problem for him (or that he is obliged to defend the precepts of his faith), the mention of possible ads featuring the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the left-wing media in hysterics.

If you want to argue that religion is off bounds and that what counts is a candidate’s public record, the candidates’ own words and his own explanation for how faith affects his public conduct, then that standard should be equally applied. If, however, you want to hold candidates accountable for the precepts of their place of worship, then that standard should also be applied even-handedly.

Whether exploration of faith for a given candidate is productive for his opponent is an entirely different matter. I’ve argued to my friends on the right that it’s useless to go back to the albeit-troubling record of President Obama in Wright’s church and his association with characters like Bill Ayers; Americans don’t care. Moreover, the far better evidence of Obama’s left-leaning ideology is his own record. Instead of recounting what Wright said about Jews, it’s more relevant to recount what Obama has said to and about (“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you”) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I think the rumpus is another “shiny object,” as Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie described the parade of distracting stories that take the public’s mind off Obama’s record. The New York Times, which puts such stories on page one, has yet to do comprehensive pieces on Obama’s record, with the exception of one informative report on his scuttling of the “grand bargain.” The paucity of reporting on Obama’s record as president, compounded by the series of “Can you believe what the Republicans are doing now?” stories confirms conservatives’ suspicions that there is a symbiotic relationship between the media and the Obama team to make the campaign about nonsense.

Unfortunately, the way the media works, in herdlike fashion, as soon as a major outlet holds up the next “shiny object,” other outlets follow suit. Well, the New York Times is covering it! News judgment goes out the window, and any sense of proportion fades not only for the outlet that first held up the “shiny object” but for the whole news corps. How many days of “Romney bullied a long-haired kid in high school” stories have we endured on nearly every cable and broadcast news show as well as in the blogs and print media?

From here on out, we intend to call the “shiny objects” for what they are. In fact, for a new Thursday feature, I’ll be pointing out the most. egregious “shiny object” coverage of the week. It’s about time we blew the whistle on what has become another endemic habit in the media that serves a transparent political objective.