One of the Democrats’ greatest assets this November may be turning into a liability. Yesterday, during a segment on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, host Williams and  Associated Press White House News Editor Nancy Benac discussed the ramifications of Bill Clinton’s recent NBC interview on the Democrats’ chances at the polls.


In London, England earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivered a speech about global trade at the Chatham House think tank. Given that the group's mission is "to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world," and that it encourages "open debate and confidential discussion on the most significant developments in international affairs," it seemed a reasonable expectation that those present would ask questions relevant to those matters.

Instead, Scott Walker was asked several brazenly off-topic questions, including if he believed in evolution. He refused to answer them. In the case of evolution, he said, "I’m going to punt on that one ... That’s a question that a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another," while reminding the audience that "I'm here to talk about trade and not pontificate on other issues."

Poor David Espo and Nancy Benac. A six-paragraph squib this morning headlined "Calls for gun control stir little support" at the wire service's national site and "Despite a string of high-profile shootings, calls for gun control stir little support" at really should have been titled "Why Aren't You Guys Politicizing This, D**nit?"

The two AP "reporters" bitterly wail and gnash their teeth over how little outcry there has been for stricter gun laws after the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre (shown in full because of its brevity and subsequent later expansion, to be discussed later in this post, and for fair use and discussion purposes).

Barack Obama has trouble telling the truth.

This is the man who admitted his memoir "Dreams of My Father" was semi-fictional. “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people, I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology.” Translation: On some pages, I’m taking poetic license with the facts to burnish my image.

Are the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings an occasion for media explanation...or celebration? The Washington Post Express tabloid ran this headline Monday: "Kagan's Big Day Finally Arrives." The copy underneath by AP reporter Nancy Benac sounds like a proud mother more than an objective journalist. She suggested "it may be her own words that best explain her success at charting an undeviating course to the front steps of the high court." She elaborated about Kagan's career, in sympathetic tones: 

She's excelled by dint of hard work, smarts and what she describes as good "situation sense" - the ability to size up her surroundings and figure out what truly matters, as she put it during confirmation hearings for her last job, as President Barack Obama's solicitor general, the government's top lawyer.

It's what allowed Kagan to channel the thinking of legal giant Thurgood Marshall when she was a "27-year-old pipsqueak" clerk to the justice.

It's what allowed Kagan to navigate through the land mines of government policy on abortion, tobacco and other contentious issues as an adviser to President Bill Clinton.

“You can't see it, but there's a quiet cultural revolution under way at the White House,” gushed the AP's Nancy Benac in the lead to her Tuesday night dispatch headlined: “Modern art hits 1600 Pa. Ave.” Benac heralded:
The Obamas are decorating their private spaces with more modern and abstract artwork than has ever hung on the White House walls. New pieces by contemporary African-American and Native American artists are on display. Bold colors, odd shapes, squiggly lines have arrived.

In the celebration of the kind of art the Obamas have chosen to display in office and residential areas, Benac admired the “impressive assortment of modern and contemporary work” mixed with “an intriguing trio of patent models,” all of which “a private art dealer in New York” pronounced “highly sophisticated” as he applauded: “We feel we have someone now in the White House who is saying that culture is an important part of this country.”

Watching Associated Press reports evolve, or as is all too often the case, devolve, can be a revealing exercise.

Example: What happened between 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday that would have caused the Associated Press and writer Nancy Benac to water down the headline and opening paragraphs of their story about the Obama-Gates-Crowley situation from this ....


.... to this? (after the jump)

Someone at the Associated Press got a headline mostly right ("Obama rushes to quell racial uproar he helped fire") -- although you still have to wonder if it had been almost anyone else, if something along the lines of "xxxx stops short of full apology" would have been used instead.

AP writer Nancy Benac's story does note a couple of clear negatives in Barack Obama's behavior in the Henry Gates matter, but it also lapses into blather about "the nation's keen sensitivities on matters of race."

Benac also blew by an incendiary comment by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the President's police union critics reported earlier today at the Politico -- "I think the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed McCain, if I'm not mistaken" -- that surely would not have been ignored had a Republican president's PressSec had made a similar statement about a Democrat-endorsing group. It as if, in Gibbs's world, partisanship is the only reason the FOP defended officer James Crowley.

Here are key paragraphs from Benac's report: