Covering Barack Obama's Monday May 13 press conference for the May 14 edition of the Wall Street Journal, reporters Peter Nicholas and Janet Hook painted the president as above the partisan fray and Republicans as the ones sidetracking Washington from the "plenty of unfinished business" that the president has on his plate just "[f]our months into his new term."
In their 20-paragraph story, "Obama Dismisses Benghazi Claims," Nicholas and Hook seemed particularly interested in the president's charge that the Benghazi focus was all about GOP campaigning and fundraising, even as the veteran reporters left out that shortly after the president's joint press conference, he jetted off to New York City for a closed-door Democratic National Committee fundraiser at a private residence (emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama sought to quell a partisan uproar over his administration's response to last year's terrorist assault in Benghazi, Libya, charging that Republican lawmakers are creating a "political circus" partly to raise campaign cash.
Mr. Obama brusquely dismissed Republican criticism that the White House misled the public about the attacks, which killed four Americans, by minimizing the link to terrorism.
"There's no 'there' there," Mr. Obama said during a news conference Monday with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron. "The fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations."
Ken Duberstein, White House chief of staff during Mr. Reagan's second term, said the controversy over Benghazi is a distraction for Mr. Obama.
"It certainly diverts attention from whatever the White House is trying to do on a jobs agenda, or the economy or immigration reform because your time is occupied dealing with all these situations. The distraction can be severe," he said.
Four months into his new term, Mr. Obama has plenty of unfinished business. Last week, GOP senators delayed confirmation votes on two of his nominees for cabinet posts: Gina McCarthy for the Environmental Protection Agency and Thomas Perez for labor secretary.
After an all-out effort to tighten gun-control laws, the president couldn't muster enough votes for Senate passage last month. And he still is pressing for a "grand bargain" budget agreement with the GOP over taxes and spending.
An immigration overhaul looks more promising, if only because Republicans recognize they risk disappointing millions of Hispanic voters by blocking a bill.
In his news conference he sought to portray GOP criticism over Benghazi as a partisan exercise that is irrelevant to larger priorities. Some opponents, he said, have used the Benghazi episode for fundraising.
Left unexplored by Nicholas and Hook, of course, was that if Republicans have a partisan motivation to milk Benghazi for political advantage, don't Democrats likewise have a partisan motivation to downplay it to save Mr. Obama's political fortunes, and those of the Democratic Party in the 2014 midterms?
And again, Nicholas and Hook might have mentioned that Mr. Obama's attack on Republicans fundraising off of Benghazi was just a little rich coming as it did hours before he jetted off to New York City for a swanky, celebrity-studded $16,200-a-plate Democratic fundraiser. Similarly Mr. Obama jetted off to a campaign event a few hours after his terse Rose Garden statement on September 12, 2012 regarding the Benghazi attack.