In Thursday's Washington Post, reporters Scott Wilson and Anne Gearan really should have had their story labeled "commentary" or at least "news analysis." Or perhaps "journalistic crystal-ball-rubbing." It had the Obama-defending headline "Romney’s missteps on Libya may hurt criticism of Obama’s foreign policy." Not "Obama's missteps on Libya may help Romney criticism."
The story began: "A series of missteps by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in criticizing President Obama’s account of the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, might make it harder for him to continue using the incident as the heart of his wider complaint about the incumbent’s foreign policy record."
The Posties and other reporters love to use this "may" and "might" language to channel their wishful thinking, often to project that Democrats are about to win decisively. They added, "The presidential debate Tuesday, however, again showed the perils that Romney faces in using the Libya attack to go after the president’s leadership abroad."
To the Post, Obama didn't make a "misstep" by spending weeks claiming the attack on Libya came from an anti-Muslim video -- not as long as the words "acts of terror" can be found in his September 12 statement. The Post story also avoids the small "misstep" of Obama's optics -- leaving for a Las Vegas event shortly after learning our ambassador had been killed. Instead, the Post put all the controversy on Romney:
He mistakenly said Obama took weeks to call the Benghazi assault “an act of terror,” even though, as moderator Candy Crowley pointed out, the president used those words in a statement he made from the Rose Garden a day after the attack.
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” Obama said at the time. At another point in the remarks, he called the attack “outrageous and shocking,” although he refrained from using the term “terrorism” to describe it directly.
Wilson and Gearan couldn't acknowledge that this was Romney's point -- that Obama refrained from any direct reference to "terrorism" so he could hope to keep blaming anti-Muslim videos.
The toughest these Posties could get on the White House was to note they offered, ahem, "shifting explanations." That's a funny way to describe absolute falsehood.
"The Obama administration has offered shifting explanations for how Stevens and the three other Americans were killed, attributing the deaths variously to an attack that emerged from demonstrations over a YouTube video disparaging the prophet Muhammad and to a well-coordinated assault carried out by the al-Qaeda affiliate in North Africa."
The Post also managed to include anti-media sour grapes: "Several Romney advisers acknowledged privately Wednesday that Obama got the better of Romney during their Libya exchange — in large part, they asserted, because Crowley took Obama’s side."
Scott Wilson and Anne Gearan are also very transparently on Obama's side in this campaign.