My first inclination today was to write something about this being a moment that we might look back on as the beginning of the end for the Trump campaign.

Certainly there are plenty of reasons to think that might be the case. From Trump’s mind-bogglingly offensive attack on the Khan family to a powerful pushback from John McCain and other Republicans, from his bizarre comments about Ukraine and Crimea (and the NFL!) to his plummeting poll numbers, this has quite possibly been his worst week.

But rather than belabor the obvious, I’d like to examine the proper role of the news media in covering a campaign like this, which is utterly unique in the post-World War II era—possibly even in the post-Civil War era. Let me start by laying out what I hope the vast majority of you will regard as self-evident truths about the two major-party candidates.

Hillary Clinton is an intelligent, highly experienced, but flawed political figure. She is unpopular and shades the truth, as she has been caught doing once again in talking about her private email server. On the other hand, her enemies have been lying about the extent of her misdeeds for a quarter-century, from Whitewater to Benghazi.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a racist demagogue who advocates torture, has called for the innocent families of terrorists to be killed, and has expressed hatred and mockery toward Mexicans, Muslims, women, and the disabled. He is a pathological liar. He is the first presidential candidate since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns, which may or may not reveal improper dealings with the Russian government. Yes, I am writing this in the context of an opinion column, but these are facts.

In other words, we are talking about an asymmetrical contest between someone who is unpopular and slippery versus someone who is truly dangerous.

Now, the normal role for journalism in covering a campaign is to report on what the candidates are saying, to dig into their proposals, to expose embarrassing details in their backgrounds, and to do all this in a more or less even-handed way. But surely we can all recognize that this is not Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney, or Bill Clinton versus Bob Dole.

Are the media up to the challenge? From what I’ve seen, our major newspapers have been quite good in covering multiple aspects of the Trump menace. If you read the New York Times, the Washington Post, or, locally, the Boston Globe, you are well-informed about Clinton’s and Trump’s shortcomings. And I think a fair assessment of that coverage would convince you that Trump’s deficits are massively more significant than Clinton’s.

On the other hand, I think the major television networks, NPR, the PBS NewsHour, and CNN have too often gotten caught up in the trap of covering this like a normal campaign. The pull of artificial balance and false equivalence is incredibly powerful. To deviate guarantees that you’ll be attacked by Trump supporters and accused of “liberal bias”—never mind that some of the most impassioned voices against Trump have come from the right, including Republican foreign-policy adviser Max Boot and former George W. Bush aide Michael Gerson.

I am leaving Fox News and MSNBC out of this because, of the three cable news networks, only CNN claims to be covering all sides. And I’ll grant you that it’s a little complicated with CNN—it has so many people functioning as straight-up reporters, analysts, and partisan commentators that it can be hard to generalize. They are not all Wolf Blitzer.

For instance, CNN’s Chris Cuomo took no prisoners in interviewing Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort about Melania Trump’s plagiarism (in retrospect, barely a micro-scandal compared to what was to come). And, over the weekend, Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, conducted an extremely tough interview with Trump communications adviser Jason Miller, battering him on Trump’s statements that the Khan family had no right to speak out, on Trump’s false claim that the NFL had sent him a letter complaining about the debates, and on Trump’s list of news organizations not allowed to cover his events—including the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Politico. Let’s hope for more of this from CNN as well as other news organizations.

In a recent commentary for the Washington Post, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen wrote that Trump had “crashed” the old media system, which was based on a rough equivalence between the two parties. Rosen’s challenge to the media:

They may have to call Trump out with a forcefulness unseen before. They may have to risk the breakdown of decorum in interviews and endure excruciating awkwardness. Hardest of all, they will have to explain to the public that Trump is a special case, and the normal rules do not apply.

(I contributed to the same Post series as Rosen, criticizing the use of polls to organize the Republican primary debates.)

No journalist—even an opinion journalist, as I am—likes to be called a partisan tool (or worse). All of us would rather cover this campaign as though both major-party candidates were qualified to be president, and that it all comes down to which ideas and proposals you agree with. But we have arrived at a different place. And now we have to figure out how to deal with it.