Admission That Benghazi Investigation Is Political Gets Front Page Coverage At WaPo And NYT, But Not WSJ

A Media Matters analysis of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal found that The Post dedicated extensive coverage to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's boast that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was part of a partisan strategy that damaged Hillary Clinton's presidential chances. The Post featured 17 online or print articles or blog posts that mentioned or covered McCarthy's comments. The Times mentioned or covered the comments in five online or print articles or blog posts, and The Journal neglected to offer any print coverage, but had five online articles and blog posts that mentioned or offered coverage.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy Credits House Select Committee On Benghazi For Hillary Clinton's “Dropping” Poll Numbers

Rep. Kevin McCarthy Touts The Claim That Benghazi Committee Harmed Clinton's Electability As Part Of “A Strategy To Fight And Win.” On the September 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) admitted that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was established in part to further the GOP's partisan goals in 2016, saying, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable [sic]”:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I love how you asked my questions. But go ahead, that was one of my questions, go right ahead.

MCCARTHY: I knew you'd want to ask it. What you're going to see is a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable [sic]. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought and made that happen.

HANNITY: I agree. That's something good, I give you credit for that, I give you credit for sequestration, I give you credit -- I'll give you credit where credit is due. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/29/15]

Washington Post Dedicates Extensive Coverage To McCarthy's Remarks

Wash. Post Mentioned Or Substantially Covered McCarthy's Comments In Three Print Articles, One On The First Page. The Post included substantial coverage of McCarthy's comments in a September 30, printed column by E.J. Dionne and dedicated a front-page print article to McCarthy's comments on October 1, in which Philip Rucker and Robert Costa wrote “this week's suggestion by the likely next House speaker, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), that the taxpayer-funded Benghazi investigation was politically motivated,” may “have turned into a political gift for Clinton.” Karen Tumulty and Anne Gearan included a substantial mention of McCarthy's remarks in an October 1 print article on Hillary Clinton's campaign, in which they explained that due in part to McCarthy's remarks, “Democrats also believe that Republicans stand a big chance of overplaying their hand when Clinton goes behind the witness table before the Benghazi committee.” [The Washington Post, 9/30/15, 10/1/15, 10/1/15]

Wash. Post Dedicated 10 Blogs To McCarthy's Comments. The Post published 10 blog posts dedicated exclusively to covering McCarthy's comments and the reactions they garnered from Democrats, Republicans, and the Clinton campaign. [The Washington Post, 9/30/15, 9/30/15, 9/30/15,9/30/15, 9/30/15, 9/30/15, 9/30/15, 10/1/15, 10/1/15, 10/1/15]

Wash. Post Included Three Substantial Mentions Of McCarthy's Comments In Blog Posts. The Washington Post published three news roundup briefs online that included substantial mentions of McCarthy's comments and reactions to the remarks. [The Washington Post, 10/1/15, 10/1/15, 10/1/15]

Wash. Post Briefly Mentioned McCarthy's Comments In One Additional Blog Post. The Washington Post briefly mentioned McCarthy's comments in the Plum Line blog's September 30 Happy Hour Round Up, writing “Kevin McCarthy couldn't have given Hillary Clinton a better gift than when he admitted the purpose of the special committee on Benghazi was to harm Hillary Clinton's political prospects.” [The Washington Post, 9/30/15]

New York Times Mentioned Or Substantially Covered McCarthy's Comments In Five Articles Or Blogs, Including Front Page

NY Times Substantially Mentioned McCarthy's Comments In Two Print Articles, One On The First Page. In a September 30 article, printed on The Times' first page, Jennifer Steinhauer explained that McCarthy's suggestion “that a taxpayer-funded committee to investigate the terror attack in Benghazi was designed to harm the political fortunes of Hillary Rodham Clinton” had called his bid for the Speaker of the House into question. The Times also printed a page 27 opinion piece on October 1 by Gail Collins, who mentioned McCarthy's comments amid a discussion of the House's investigations into Planned Parenthood. [The New York Times, 9/30/15, 10/1/15]

NY Times Dedicated Two Blog Posts To Coverage Of McCarthy's Comments. The New York Times dedicated two blog posts to coverage of McCarthy's comments and Hillary Clinton's reaction. For The Times' First Draft blog, Maggie Haberman wrote on September 30 that Hillary Clinton had called McCarthy's comments “deeply distressing,” and on October 1 asserted that the comments “have put Mrs. Clinton on solid, forward-looking political ground” after McCarthy “told Fox News on Tuesday that Mrs. Clinton's falling poll numbers were linked to the work of the select committee investigating the Benghazi attacks.” [The New York Times, 9/30/15,10/1/15]

NY Times Included One Brief Online Mention. The September 30 edition of NYT Now briefly mentioned that “McCarthy, came under fire for appearing to admit that the House Benghazi panel was created to damage Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.” [The New York Times, 9/30/15]

Wall Street Journal Mentioned Or Substantially Covered McCarthy's Comments In 5 Online Posts

WSJ Published One Opinion Piece Online Dedicated To McCarthy's Remarks. Conservative opinion columnist Peggy Noonan condemned McCarthy's comments in an October 1 column, arguing that, contrary to the Majority Leader's claims, the Benghazi Committee is “driven by a desire to get the facts of a tragedy in which four people died.” Noonan then called on McCarthy to apologize for “using [the Benghazi Committee's] work to help his immediate prospects” in his bid for Speaker of the House. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/1/15]

WSJ Published Two Blog Posts Dedicating Substantial Coverage To McCarthy's Remarks. The Wall Street Journal published two posts in The Washington Wire blog that substantially addressed Rep. McCarthy's comments on the Benghazi Committee. Siobhan Hughes noted on September 30 that McCarthy had made the connection between Clinton's dropping poll numbers and the activity of the Benghazi Committee, and wrote that “Democrats said the remarks were proof of what they had suspected all along” -- that the committee was designed to diminish Clinton politically. On October 2, Linda Killian wrote that McCarthy's “assertion confirmed many voters' suspicions that everything that happens in Washington is about advancing partisan advantage” and that the panel “long ago stopped examining what happened in Benghazi and what we could do to make our embassies safer,” opting instead to “discredit Mrs. Clinton.” [The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/15, 10/2/15]

WSJ Included Two Additional Brief Mentions Online. In addition to the more significant discussions of the three blog posts, the WSJ published two news roundup posts that briefly mentioned the incident and linked to longer articles about McCarthy's comments. The Washington Wire blog directed readers to an opinion piece by The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne and, in the Morning Editorial Report, James Freeman directed readers to Peggy Noonan's WSJ opinion piece. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/1/15, 10/2/15]


Media Matters searched Nexis archives for The New York Times and The Washington Post using the search terms “McCarthy AND Benghazi” for articles appearing between September 30 and 10:30 AM October 2. Media Matters searched Factiva archives for The Wall Street Journal using the search terms “McCarthy AND Benghazi” and conducted a Google site search from September 30 to October 2 for the terms “site: McCarthy + Benghazi,” “ McCarthy + Benghazi,” and “ McCarthy + Benghazi.” Substantial coverage is defined as a print or online article or blog post dedicated entirely to coverage of McCarthy's remarks. A brief mention is defined as 2 or fewer sentences included in a large news-round up or brief. A substantial mention is defined as approximately one paragraph of coverage dedicated to McCarthy's remarks within a print or online article or blog post that is covering a related topic, but not McCarthy's comments directly.