The Python standard libary provides a reasonably adequate module for reading delimited data streams and there are modules available for reading everything from XLS and DIF documents to MARC data. One definiciency of many of these modules is the ability to gracefully deal with whack data; in the real world data is never clean, never correctly structured, and you are lucky if it is accurate even on the rare occasion that it is correctly encoded.
For example, when Python's CSV reader meets a garbled line in a file it throws an exception and stops, and you're done. And it does not report what record it could not parse, all you have is a traceback. Perhaps in the output you can look at the last record and guess that the error lies one record beyond that... maybe.
Fortunately most of these modules work with file-like objects. As long as the object they receive properly implements iteration they will work. Using this strength it is possible to implement a Peekaboo on the input stream which allows us to see what the current unit of work being currently processed is, or even to pre-mangle that chunk.