ABC Wants to Move on From IRS Scandal: 'White House Firing Back' and 'Feels a Lot Better'

The journalists at Good Morning America on Thursday floated the idea that Barack Obama is poised to move on from the Internal Revenue Service scandal. One day after the President announced the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner, co-host George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "The White House firing back. The President's team firing on all fronts, promising immediate action as the scandals boil over in Washington." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

An ABC graphic insited, "On the Attack." Talking to reporter Jon Karl, Stephanopoulos noted the "tough" week at the White House, but wondered, "Do they now feel like they have this under control?" Karl touted, "I think they feel a lot better now than they did 24 hours ago, George."

Karl didn't note that the President has (thus far) taken exactly one question from journalists on the scandal. Instead, he used Stephanopoulos's language that Obama is "firing back." He previewed a brief clip of Obama's statement on Wednesday by asserting, "The President was unsparing in his criticism of the IRS for targeting conservative Tea Party groups."

Karl did include one snippet of John Boehner wondering "who is going to jail" over the IRS controversy. But the World News version from the previous night was better and included more details, such as this claim from Franklin Graham:

PIERRE THOMAS: Today, a growing number of conservatives were lining up to claim they had been targeted too. Conservative Christian preacher Franklin Graham suggested the IRS audited his charities after he stood up against gay marriage. In a letter to President Obama, Graham said, "I write to inform you this profiling by the IRS was not limited to conservative political organizations. Indeed, it extended to religious charities."

A transcript of the May 16 GMA segment is below:


7am tease

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The White House firing back. The president's team firing on all fronts, promising immediate action as the scandals boil over in Washington. The head of the IRS now fired and the House Speaker asking, who's going to jail?

7:06

ABC GRAPHIC: White House on Defensive: Damage Control on IRS & Benghazi

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to the White House. After a furious day of damage control, facing tough questions and harsh criticism on three different controversies, President Obama and his team fought back on all fronts yesterday and ABC's Jon Karl is on top of all the action. Good morning, Jon.

JON KARL: Good morning, George. That's right. The president has been on fire-- under fire from all fronts including from some of his own allies who say he has been too passive in responding to all this, but now the President is firing back. The President was unsparing in his criticism of the IRS for targeting conservative Tea Party groups.

BARACK OBAMA: It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I'm angry about it.

KARL: And promised immediate action, starting with the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner.

OBAMA: I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable.

KARL: Although that doesn't appear to be immediate. In his letter of resignation, Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller suggested that he would not be leaving right away, writing, quote, "As I wrap up my time at the IRS, I will be focused on an orderly transition." With Congress now poised to hold multiple investigations on the issue, Speaker of the House John Boehner says he wants more than resignations.

JOHN BOEHNER: Now, my question isn't about who is going to resign. My question is, who's going to jail over this scandal?

KARL: Late Wednesday the White House also gave in to Republican demands to release 100 pages of e-mails detailing the behind-the-scenes conversation in the days after the terrorist attack in Benghazi. The e-mails confirm what ABC News first reported. The so-called talking points underwent 12 revisions deleting references to the terror threat in Benghazi after the State Department raised objections. Senior administration officials, however, said it was Deputy CIA director Mike Morrell who actually made the changes by hand. The e-mails show that all 12 versions of the talking points said the attack was, quote, "spontaneously inspired by protests in Cairo," something that turned out not to be true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon. That is the IRS controversy, the Benghazi controversy. The Attorney General yesterday also facing some questions in this leak investigation, whether the Justice Department went too far in seizing the phone records of the Associated Pres.

KARL: That's right. And I'll tell you, here at the White House, you can tell there is a feeling of real concern about that. They have no control over that. They can't interfere with that investigation but the President has come out now to say he wants Congress to pass a shield law which at least in theory could protect journalists from something this in the future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Overall, the week started out so tough for the White House and saw the action. Do they now feel like they have this under control?

KARL: I think they feel a lot better now than they did 24 hours ago, George. Really, the response earlier on this was, "Look, none of this is in our control and now the President has come out and he's taken action on the IRS. They believe they can move on from this. But, of course, congressional hearings are just beginning on that.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org