House Republicans on Tuesday released an 800-plus-page Benghazi report that did, um, something. What that something is, however, seems tough for the media to pinpoint.
Here at The Post, we went with "Republicans on Benghazi panel rip U.S. response." The Times' version reads, "Benghazi panel finds no misdeeds by Clinton." The emphases are reversed in the subheads. Post: "Report offers some new details of attack but little to scathe Clinton." Times: "Republicans rebuke administration in final report."
The full picture is essentially the same in both newspapers, but the No. 1 takeaway is strikingly different. And similarly, across the country, headline disparities ruled the morning.
Some papers, like The Post, stress GOP criticisms and what is in the report.
GOP finds fault with Benghazi response (Clevland Plain Dealer)
Benghazi probe ends with broad rebuke (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
GOP panel's report slams lax security in Benghazi (Oregonian)
Others, like the Times, highlight what's not in the report — damning new evidence against Hillary Clinton.
No case against Clinton in GOP report (Los Angeles Times)
No 'smoking gun' to link Clinton to wrongdoing (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Clinton's campaign likely to move past Benghazi (Miami Herald)
A third category of headlines offers no conclusion at all.
GOP releases report on Benghazi (Indianapolis Star)
House Benghazi quest ends (Tampa Bay Times)
House ends 2-year probe of Benghazi (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Finally, there are publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Denver Post and Detroit Free Press that don't even have stories about the Benghazi report on their front pages. Perhaps the lack of new details about Clinton made editors decide that it just wasn't that significant — even as some consider the lack of new details newsworthy in and of itself.
Clearly it is tough for the media to discern the principal significance of the report's findings. In fact, the online headline for the same Washington Post story that ran in print under "Republicans on Benghazi panel rip U.S. response" is "House Republicans issue report on Benghazi attacks but find no new evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton." The key difference here seems to be deciding whether to write about what's in the two-years-in-the-making report or what it means — or more accurately, probably won't mean — for the 2016 election and Clinton.
Both angles are accurate — as are the rest of the headlines above. But the lack of a single narrative is pretty striking. Call it a draw that probably won't change many long-standing, consistently divided opinions about one of the election's most well-worn stories.