Acting as though he were Barack Obama's lawyer, George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday's Good Morning America repeatedly pressed John Boehner as to why he doesn't believe the President's explanation about the IRS scandal. After the Speaker of the House marveled, "How can your chief of staff, your general counsel know and you not know," the GMA co-host lectured, "That's a pretty serious charge."
Stephanopoulos continued, "Have you seen any evidence or has Chairman [Darrell] Issa produced any evidence that this was led by the White House in any way, shape or form?" The former Democratic operative turned journalist complained, "What information do you want that they haven't provided?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Returning to the same question over and over, Stephanopoulos pushed, "You believe it was directed from the White House?" He even cited a Democratic representative, loyal to the President, reminding, "Congressman Cummings says that the evidence he's produced that it was generated in Cincinnati. You don't buy that?"
In contrast, when Stephanopoulos interviewed Obama, he routinely fawned over the Democrat. On September 9, 2010, the host fretted about how the job was impacting Obama's family life: "You know, when you're going through these hard times, how much of it bleeds through to them? And how do you protect them from it?"
Just the fact that GMA even had Boehner on the program is startling. In an attempt to compete with the light programming of NBC's Today, ABC has dumped much of its serious interviews. In April, the Media Research Center found that GMA devoted seemingly endless hours of coverage to sensational criminal trials such as Amanda Knox and Jodi Arias, but ignored the Kermit Gosnell abortion trial.
A transcript of the June 11 segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, to my exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner. The most powerful Republican in Washington, Boehner is pressing the White House hard on the IRS scandal, pushing his own party to finish immigration reform. But he began our interview with tough words for Edward Snowden.
JOHN BOEHNER: He's a traitor. The President outlined last week that these were important national security programs to help keep Americans safe and give us tools to fight the terrorist threat that we face. The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk. It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are and it's a giant violation of the law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you point out, the President has said these programs are effective, they're fully constitutional, fully approved by Congress and limited. Do you agree with all that?
BOEHNER: I do. I've been briefed on these programs. There's no American who is going to be snooped on in any way, unless they're in contact with some terrorist somewhere around the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though all of these phone records, not phone calls, but all of the phone records are being scooped up, you believe that Americans' privacy is still protected?
BOEHNER: Absolutely. And every time that I've been in a briefing, nine of the ten people in the room are lawyers, there to protect the privacy of the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: These investigations in the Internal Revenue Service. Last week, you said it was inconceivable, I believe, that President Obama did not know about this before he said he knew about the problems at the IRS. Do you still believe that? What is it based on?
BOEHNER: Well, it's based on the fact that many of his senior staff knew about it and have known about it for some time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Only this year.
BOEHNER: Well, over the last three or four months. George, I know how I operate with my senior staff. I meet with them every morning. It would be inconceivable in my operation that my staff would know it and I wouldn't.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you think the president isn't being straight--
BOEHNER: I just said I think it's inconceivable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he said that's the fact.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't buy it?
BOEHNER: It's just-- it doesn't pass the straight face test. How can your chief of staff, your general counsel know, and you not know? The more important point, George--
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a pretty serious charge.
BOEHNER: --is that there's a serious problem at the IRS. Our goal is to root out the problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you seen any evidence or has Chairman Issa produced any evidence that this was led by the White House in any way, shape or form?
BOEHNER: This White House has performed like any White House I've seen. Stonewall, stonewall, stonewall. Reluctant to turn over information.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What information do you want they haven't provided?
BOEHNER: I want to know-- this was operated by low-level employees in Cincinnati. So, who directed it and where did this come from?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Cummings says that the evidence he's produced that it was generated in Cincinnati. You don't buy that?
BOEHNER: No. I'm not buying that at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You believe it was directed from the White House?
BOEHNER: I don't know where it was directed from. It's not my job to do that. Our committees are going to do their job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about immigration. It's on the Senate floor. Can you support the Senate bill?
BOEHNER: I have got real concerns about the Senate bill, especially in the area of border security and internal enforcement of this system. I'm concerned that it doesn't go far enough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If it goes farther, are you prepared to sign on to a bill with a clear path to citizenship for those in the country illegally?
BOEHNER: George, what I've tried to do is create an environment in the House where members from both parties can continue to work together. And I would expect that the House bill will be to the right of where the Senate is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What's the most important thing you'll get done this year?
BOEHNER: I think immigration reform is probably at the top of that list.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Signed into law?
BOEHNER: I think by the end of the year, we could have a bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One that passes the House, passes the Senate, signed by the President?
BOEHNER: No question.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Speaker, good luck.
BOEHNER: Thank you. I'll need it.