“Doubts about Mandate for Bush, GOP,” is the headline in a front-page piece in today’s Washington Post.

Whose doubts? I mean, besides the two reporters who penned the piece? I read the piece and concluded that, except for President Bush’s bad poll numbers, there was little internal evidence of this. Is the story, as comentator Hugh Hewitt puts it, “absurdist agenda journalism“?

Should the public be upset about opinion masquerading as reporting in the nation’s better dailies? Not a bit. In chronicling the changes that happened in the last election cycle, Michael Barone explains why this just doesn’t matter that much:

“Old Media influence declined, while New Media influence increased. Old Media — The New York Times, CBS, ABC, NBC — is staffed mostly by liberals, and their work product inevitably reflects this. New Media — talk radio, Fox News Channel, the Internet Web logs, which together are called the blogosphere — are in many cases staffed by conservatives, and their work product reflects this.

“In the old days, when Old Media had an effective monopoly on what most voters learned about politics and government, you would not have heard much about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth charges against John Kerry and you would not have seen any questioning of the forged documents Dan Rather relied on in his ’60 Minutes II’ broadcast aimed at undermining George W. Bush. But in 2004, thanks to New Media, the Swiftvets got a hearing and Dan Rather’s documents were proved dubious by the blogosphere in less than 24 hours.

“For the last several weeks, George W. Bush and the Republicans have been taking a beating in Old Media. Yet when you look at the state of play, you find that they’re not doing as badly as that coverage suggests.”