What happened
The presidential campaigns of Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton traded accusations over the weekend after columnist Robert Novak reported that Clinton’s campaign had scandalous information about Obama but had decided not to make it public. (Des Moines Register)

What the commentators said
It was “agents of Hillary” who spread the word about this “alleged scandal” in the first place, Novak said in the Chicago Sun-Times. Democratic insiders believe Clinton is trying to avoid a repeat of 2004, when candidates Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt traded attacks that proved “mutually destructive,” and paved the way for John Kerry to snag the party’s nomination.

“This is all very strange,” said E.J. Dionne in a Washington Post blog. “We don't know what the charge is or who is actually making it, let alone whether there is anything here at all. Yet it's now all over the news. What does this say about journalistic standards? What does it say about the Obama and Clinton campaigns?”

This marks an “ugly personal turn” for the campaign, said Glenn Thrush in Newsday. After a debate in which Clinton accused her rivals of mud-slinging, Obama went so far as to charge Clinton and her aides with “swift-boating” by planting the story with Novak without so much as naming a source, even an anonymous one.

Americans probably didn’t care much about Novak’s dirt, said Jason Linkins in The Huffington Post. This non-scandal said more about Novak’s “dessicated husk” of a career as a so-called journalist. If he can’t tell the difference between this slime and a real story, he’s farther gone than anybody thought.