Scarborough Scalds Carney For Calling IRS Targeting Of Conservatives A 'Phony Scandal'

When on today's Morning Joe, Obama spokesman Jay Carney had the chutzpah to call the IRS mess a "phony scandal,"Joe Scarborough ripped into him, calling Carney out for using "talking points," instructing him to "answer my question" and informing Carney that "I'm not somebody you talk down to from your podium." Ouch! H/t NB reader cobokat.

Scarborough reminded Carney that he hadn't told the truth when he initially claimed that the scandal was limited to low-level employees in the IRS Cincinnati office, that it now appears that it may go at least as high as the IRS Chief Counsel, appointed by President Obama, is involved.  Carney continued to slough off the scandal, claiming it was a diversion and that the President wants to focus on the economy, blah, blah, blah.  Things got heated, as you'll see from the video, after the jump.



watch Scarborough and Carney spar.

 

JAY CARNEY: The President will go back to Galesburg, Illinois today to deliver a speech about where we need to move the economy, Jay, what we should be focusing on here in Washington, and it shouldn't be on the skirmishes that cause gridlock, it shouldn't be on the phony scandals that Have consumed so much attention here, all to come to naught.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Jay, I'll ask you about the President's pivot to the economy--he's done that several times.  But first, you brough up "phony scandals."  That's like, seriously, that's like throwing red meat in the middle of dogs. I got to ask you this question: what phony scandals? Do you think the IRS scandal is a phony scandal?

JAY CARNEY: I think what we've seen is inappropriate conduct that the President came out forcefully and said he would not tolerate and that he installed somebody at the IRS to take care of. What we have seen from Republicans is cherry-picked information based on investigations that turns out to be only one side of the story. Again and again and again, if you look up on Capitol Hill, when Chairman Issa and others have selectively released information and refused to release the full facts, the full facts show that the story is quite different. I think you can-- it's demonstrated by the way the press has gotten extremely excited about the potential for a scandal and basically dropped it when the facts have come out. The President will not tolerate poor performance or inappropriate activity at any agency, and when he finds out about it, he acts on it. But he's focused on the economy, Joe. He's not focused on pretend scandals that Republicans on Capitol Hill want to turn into partisan skirmishes.

SCARBOROUGH: Jay, I want to get to the economy because obviously that's the most important thing. We have to clean up this one thing, though. You say that there's cherry-picked information. Let's just take the IRS scandal. The fact is it's far different than what you said. At the beginning, you said it was just the Cincinnati office, and then we find out more people in Washington are involved, and then this past week we found out, despite what any of us think of the investigations on Capitol Hill--and I see you smiling. I don't know that there's anything to smile about--that it wasn't a couple of crazy people in Cincinnati, that this information actually went up to the chief counsel of the IRS, which was one of two political appointees by the President of the United States in the entire IRS. So it doesn't sound phony to me, Jay.

CARNEY: Joe, I greatly appreciate that is the line pushed by Republicans who want Washington to be focused on scandals instead of the economy.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. No, no, no, no, no, no, Jay, that doesn't work. Is that the truth or not, Jay? Is that the truth or not? You said, Jay, this was limited to Cincinnati. That wasn't true. I want to talk about the economy, but talk to me
--

CARNEY: give me a chance, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Don't give me talking points because that doesn't work on this show. And you've been here long enough to know it doesn't work on this show. So answer my question, and then let's talk about the economy.

CARNEY: When you get to the question, I'll answer it.

SCARBOROUGH: I gave you the question, and you decided to fight me, Jay. Stop your games with me. We've known each other for too long. I'm not playing your games. I'm not somebody you talk down to from your podium. Answer my question, Jay.
 

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.