The White House did a lot of messaging about this, but the “death panel” smear, originating in a Sarah Palin post on Facebook, went wild in the liberal blogosphere and larger media infrastructure. Someone needs to count up the hours spent on liberal MSNBC mocking Palin or mocking Republicans who furthered the rumor, or the posts at liberal blogs doing the same. All those hours spent mocking Palin got some media victories — exposing Chuck Grassley as a bad faith actor in the health care debate, perhaps — but they largely spread around the rumor while putting nothing positive out there.
This strikes me as true, and it is one of the blind spots of the blogosphere form of discourse. The breathless, seat-of-your-pants style of commenting has some real merits, but it doesn't exactly allow for introspection. We liberals let ourselves get sidetracked with this stuff. Without all the oxygen, this story would have died out in a week, I'm guessing.