Tuesday's front-page New York Times story by Michael Shear and Jonathan Weisman, "Obama Dismisses Benghazi Furor But Assails I.R.S," again emphasized partisan back-and-forth at the expense of journalistic digging into the actual facts of the IRS and Benghazi controversies swirling around the Obama White House.
Weisman's byline is an assurance that the story to follow will be light on details and heavy breathing on Republican partisanship. Tuesday's entry fit the bill, especially the lead sentence, in which Weisman prioritized the partisan angle of "Republican adversaries" over the substantive angle of "new questions about the administration’s conduct."
President Obama, facing re-energized Republican adversaries and new questions about the administration’s conduct, on Monday dismissed a furor over the handling of last year’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as a political “sideshow” but joined a bipartisan chorus of outrage over disclosures that the Internal Revenue Service had singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny.
Four months into his second term, the president was under increasing assault from Republicans who accused the administration of political bullying and a lack of transparency. Kathleen Sebelius, Mr. Obama’s secretary of health and human services, has drawn criticism in recent days for soliciting corporate donations to pay for the rollout next year of the new health care law.
And on Monday evening, The Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of its reporters. The company’s editors called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering, and Republicans quickly seized on the report.
Mr. Obama’s blunt condemnation of the I.R.S. appeared designed to head off fallout as Republicans and Democrats called for hearings and investigations into the matter. But on Benghazi, he seemed exasperated and angry to be facing a continuing barrage of accusations that he deemed recycled and partisan.