Bush on the Benchmarks and Iraq

President Bush gave a press conference today to talk about Iraq. He did an excellent job; the full text of the press conference is here.
The President began with introductory comments on Iraq. An excerpt:

[S]ometimes the debate over Iraq is cast as a disagreement between those who want to keep our troops in Iraq and those who want to bring our troops home. And this is not the real debate. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to see the day when our brave servicemen and women can start coming home.
In my address to the nation in January, I put it this way: If we increase our support at this crucial moment we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home. The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost, and those that believe the fight can be won and that, as difficult as the fight is, the cost of defeat would be far higher.
I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. So we’re working to defeat al Qaeda and other extremists, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services, and be an ally in the war against these extremists and radicals. By doing this, we’ll create the conditions that would allow our troops to begin coming home, while securing our long-term national interest in Iraq and in the region.
When we start drawing down our forces in Iraq it will be because our military commanders say the conditions on the ground are right, not because pollsters say it will be good politics.

Bush talked at considerable length about Iraq. Among other things, he discussed the “benchmark” report that was released today. He then took questions; a total of 20 were asked, of which 19, appropriately, were about Iraq and al Qaeda. Again, the President did an excellent job of explicating and defending his policies. One reporter asked a single question about Scooter Libby, which Bush answered briefly.
So, consider this headline from the Associated Press: “Bush Seeks to Put CIA Leak Issue to Rest.” Incredibly, the AP led its coverage of the President’s press conference on Iraq with a rehash of the Valerie Plame case:

President Bush on Thursday sought to put to rest the controversy over his decision to spare a top former White House official from going to jail, saying it was time to move on. He also called on the nation and skeptical lawmakers to stand with him on Iraq, despite a new report showing only mixed progress.

While acknowledging that the President “also” talked about Iraq, the AP devoted 11 paragraphs to the Plame story. Even more bizarre is the version of the same AP story that is running on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s site, headlined “Bush acknowledges administration leaked CIA operative’s name.” The Strib’s version purports to cover today’s press conference, but mentions nothing but the one question on Libby and never mentions that the subject of the press conference was Iraq.
This is what passes for “news” in the parallel universe inhabited by many of our journalists.
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