Yesterday, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web had this to say about the title of an Associated Press report (“Obama Defends Tenor of His Campaign, Slams Romney”) covering President Obama’s four-question “press conference” — “The writer of this Associated Press headline is either witty or clueless.”
The underlying writeup by Jim Kuhnhenn and Charles Babington wasn’t witty, and was at least as clueless, especially in letting the howler about how Obama was supposedly able to “distance himself” from the “Mitt Romney caused my wife to die of cancer” meme his own campaign associated itself with earlier this year (verbiage relating to the Todd Akin situation in Missouri is also in the report; I’ll defer to others in that matter; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Denounced by his Republican rival for divisiveness, President Barack Obama on Monday defended the tone of his campaign in a combative election year and insisted it’s actually Mitt Romney’s ads that are “patently false.” But Obama did distance himself from a particularly provocative negative ad by a political group that supports him. 
… Obama made a surprise visit to the White House briefing room, at least partly upstaging a joint campaign appearance by Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, in New Hampshire.  The rally by Romney and Ryan, their first appearance together after a week of vigorous campaigning separately, had been highly anticipated, drawing an enthusiastic crowd and wide media attention.
The president turned the day into a long-distance point-counterpoint debate with his opponent. He took questions from four reporters, the most he has taken from the national press corps in two months , dealing to an extent with complaints about his inaccessibility.
… “I don’t think that Governor Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad,” Obama said. But he added that he did not approve or produce the ad  and said it had had only a brief airing on television.
… In his news conference, Obama countered, saying his speeches and the ads run by his re-election campaign have focused accurately on substantive issues such as taxes and spending. By contrast, he said Romney has aired “patently false” claims that the president is “gutting” welfare’s work requirement. 
… The GOP running mates promised a sunnier future of lower taxes, lower deficits, more jobs at home, and greater U.S. prestige abroad. But they offered few details on how they would achieve these goals, which have vexed Congresses and White Houses for years. 
 — It’s pretty hard to legitimately “distance” yourself from an ad campaign by a SuperPAC when the same person was involved in an official Obama campaign conference call with Stephanie Cutter in May.
 — In conjunction with a story that Joe Biden will campaign in Tampa during the week of the Republican National Convention, the Obama campaign and administration seem to be personally stalking Romney. This is what tinpot dictators and punks do, not (or so I thought) presidents and vice-presidents of the United States.
 — Probable correction: These are as far as I know the only four questions Obama has taken in the past two months.
 — But his campaign, as seen in , was aware of it and had no problem with the SuperPAC airing it.
 — The claim about new HHS regs gutting the work requirement isn’t “patently false.” It’s completely true, according to Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation, who just so happens to have written and championed the original 1996 law.
 — Actually, one part of Congress has ignored the tax (really spending) and deficit problems for over three years — the Senate by not passing a budget, and the President by not insisting on having one.
All in all, a very sad but typical White House press corps performance by the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.