On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, after proclaiming President Obama to be "on the offensive" amid growing scandals, anchor Brian Williams hinted at those controversies being only temporary setbacks for Obama: "And some folks are already calling the President's problems the curse of the second term. And yet it's tough to know the staying power of any given scandal in the making, along with the effect any of this might have on his overall planned agenda." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
This is the same Brian Williams who in February quipped that Florida Senator Marco Rubio taking a sip of water during a response to the President's State of the Union address was a moment "that just might live on forever."
In the latest instance of liberal journalists thinking alike, Charlie Rose asked practically the same question on Friday's CBS This Morning that ABC's George Stephanopoulos did on Good Morning America. Rose wondered if congressional Republicans "may overplay their hand and somehow squander what they think is opportunity" on the three scandals currently surrounding the Obama White House.
The CBS anchor proposed this question not even four minutes after Stephanopoulos asked ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl, "Are some of [the GOP] leaders worried that some of the Republicans may be overplaying their hand?"
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer described how President Obama was "trying to move past" the scandals plaguing his administration. In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd began by parroting the President's attempts to downplay the political firestorm: "Aides say the President's keeping things in perspective and believes this is just a blip, he'll bounce back." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After playing clips of Obama's Thursday news conference, including Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asking about comparisons to Nixon, Todd promoted more White House spin: "In the end, aides say Mr. Obama does not feel under siege this week. The New York Times reporting the President has 'talked longingly of going Bulworth,' referencing the movie featuring Warren Beatty as a senator who suddenly decides to speak his mind whatever the political cost."
For a brief period on the morning of May 17, MSNBC was actually acting like a real news network. Starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on Friday, MSNBC carried live coverage of a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Obama IRS scandal, but apparently actual news coverage can only last so long before the network breaks out in hives from objective journalism.
Following an hour of live coverage, MSNBC felt it necessary to cut from the hearing to interview Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) to dismiss the entire proceedings as political partisanship. MSNBC was the only cable news network to cut from the live coverage to conduct a meaningless interview with a Democrat to slam Republicans.
Call it Luke Russert's version of "bitter clingers" on steroids . . . In Russert's world, there are apparently two kinds of Republican congressmen. The "smart" ones—to be found on the Ways & Means Committee—and the others, whom he calls the "God, guns and guts people," presumably in reference to this book.
Russert made his statement on today's Morning Joe, responding to Joe Scarborough's question as to whether Republicans would overplay their hand over the current scandals. According to Russert, Republicans chose well in holding today's hearing of IRS officials before the Ways & Means Committee because that's where the GOP puts its stars: "it's not the God, guns and guts people on the Ways & Means Committee: it's the smart people." View the video after the jump.
On Sept. 12, 2012, President Barack Obama vowed to "bring to justice" the perpetrators of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya. On Oct. 26, 2012, Obama said his "biggest priority" was bringing the "folks" in Libya responsible for murdering four Americans to "justice." Tick, tock, tick, tock.
While White House press secretary Jay Carney sneers at the GOP's "obsession" with what went wrong at the besieged Libyan consulate, Obama continues to ply his emptiest talking point. On May 13, 2013, more than eight months after the bloody disaster, Obama snippily reminded reporters that he had told us all back in September that "we would find out what happened, we would make sure that it did not happen again, and we would make sure that we held accountable those who had perpetrated this terrible crime."
Thursday's CBS This Morning did its best to shift blame away from President Obama on the IRS, Justice Department, and Benghazi scandals currently surrounding his administration. Bob Schieffer shot down comparisons to the Watergate scandal that led to former President Richard Nixon's resignation: "This is not the Nixon administration, where you had burglars and people talking about blowing up the Brookings Institution. This is more of a case – is anybody home?" [audio available here; video below the jump]
Anchor Charlie Rose seconded Schieffer's assessment, asserting that the President "seems like a bystander in his own government." He later stated that "the President has to take control of his own government."
On Thursday's NBC Today, in a desperate attempt to deflect from the scandals engulfing the Obama administration, co-host Savannah Guthrie wondered: "I read a headline yesterday that said Republicans see blood in the water. That they see a president who's very vulnerable politically. Is there a danger that they will overreach?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd agreed with the slanted premise: "There is. I mean, that's what happened to Republicans in 1998 with Bill Clinton. And if all of Congress is focusing on hearings to do scandals, the voters will punish them. They've done it in the past."
Well, this should be fun. President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold a joint press conference in a few minutes in the Rose Garden. The last joint press conference the president held -- on May 13 with British Prime Minister David Cameron -- was met with some tough questions by the AP's Julie Pace.
Below the page break I'll be live-blogging the questions from journalists. As usual, please give us the questions you would like answered in the comments section. Also, who do you think might ask the toughest questions and who might try to help the president out with a softball? Let us know your thoughts.
MSNBC brews up a fresh pot of liberal talking points every morning with Morning Joe and its liberal co-host Mika Brzezinski. Brzezinski lets it known every day that she is not only extremely liberal, but looks for every opportunity she can to criticize conservatives on a regular basis.
But as a result of her fervent partisanship, Mika has trouble admitting when conservatives are right on an issue, and shows, rather comically, actual physical discomfort at the sign of conservative success. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
With a headline on screen lamenting "Obama's Second-Term Blues" on Wednesday's NBC Today, the worst criticism Meet the Press moderator David Gregory could muster against the President amid growing scandals was this: "And there is a passivity about the President and the White House that even his aides and allies on the outside acknowledge is a problem. Why there has not been a faster, more stringent response."
Noting the IRS, Benghazi, and Associate Press phone records scandals, co-host Savannah Guthrie asked Gregory: "Is there a common narrative that is a critique of the administration here?" Gregory couldn't manage to find one: "Well, I don't know that you can necessarily tie all of them together....I think there is a feeling that there is too much passivity, that the President's too much of a bystander, learning about these things, as he said about the IRS, from news reports."
Charlie Rose acted as an apologist for President Obama on Wednesday's CBS This Morning, after former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asserted that the second-term executive was avoiding responsibility for the recent spate of scandals surrounding his administration.
Rumsfeld snarked that "the only thing the President has really taken responsibility for is SEAL Team Six killing Osama bin Laden." Rose interrupted his guest and replied, "Oh, that's not true." [audio clips available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday's NBC Today, regular panelist Donny Deutsch downplayed the scandals embroiling the Obama administration as merely the result of the public not having anything else to focus on: "I think in this media age we spend so many year – four years, night and day staring at these candidates, that after a while we get a little bored and turned off. And really the only story to report going forward is what I'll call that kind of slippery slope." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer called out Deutsch's dismissive tone: "I think you're making a little light of some of these stories. Some of these are pretty important, big stories." At the end of the discussion, Deutsch doubled down: "I think this is a function of, as I said again, of we are gonna over-magnify versus diminish anything that happens for any second term president."
ABC on Tuesday and Wednesday aggressively covered the growing IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, deeming it an "important" "firestorm." Yet, World News reporter Jon Karl also spun the Obama administration as a "White House that takes pride in being scandal-free." (Fast and Furious? Solyndra? Reverend Wright?) [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
To her credit, World News anchor Diane Sawyer opened the show by trumpeting: "We begin with a dramatic new turn in the firestorm surrounding the IRS. Last night, we asked if what they did was fair. Tonight, the FBI is asking, was it criminal?" Reporter Jon Karl did the work of putting the administration on record . He quizzed press secretary Jay Carney: "Can you say categorically that nobody at the White House and nobody on the President's political team had any knowledge or was involved in any way in the targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS?" (Carney simply replied, "Yes.")
It's just so unfortunate that such nice guys are going through such trying circumstances.
That's the impression one gets from graphic teases seen at about 9:30 this morning at the Washington Post, where the captions underneath the three left thumbnails read as follows: "President Obama’s disastrous political week"; "Jay Carney’s tough day"; and "Jay Carney’s day — in 7 faces." If you don't recall such an obvious outward show of sympathy during the final year of George W. Bush's presidency, you're not alone. A quick look at the underlying items follows the jump.
What will be the political fallout of the various scandals in which President Obama is ensnared? Chris Matthews thinks it will be huge.
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Matthews mused that the IRS scandal alone would be worth 5-10 points to Republican candidates. He specifically mentioned Mitch McConnell, Tom Corbett and Ken Cuccinelli as Republicans whom the scandal would aid in their 2014 races. View the video after the jump.
When I first heard of limp faux apology by the IRS's Lois Lerner on Friday for her tax-exempt division's harassment of Tea Party and conservative organizations, I thought she had done so on a conference call.
Well, she did have a conference call with reporters later that day -- the one where she said “I’m not good at math” -- but her original apology occurred at a conference of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association in Washington (Lerner's relevant involvement is shown here). Why would such a mea culpa occur out of the blue at such a venue? The answer, per Kevin Williamson at National Review's The Corner blog, is that it wasn't out of the blue at all (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Imagine that. Politico has a very negative story on our second-term president.
After over five years during which the online publication has engaged in virtual non-stop fawning over the wonders of Barack Obama -- going all the way back to shortly after its founding in January 2007, when Ben Smith found someone who described him as "frighteningly coherent" -- Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei tonight employed adjectives and described personality traits of their beloved "44" and those surrounding hime which just about anyone with eyes, meaning everyone except all too many members of the establishment press and those who have been deceived by them, has recognized for a long, long time (bolds are mine):
In a disptach early this evening, the Associated Press's Pete Yost, perhaps signaling his employer's intent to remain the journalistic lapdog known as the Administration's Press, accepted at face value Attorney General Eric Holder's claim, while defending his department's actions, to have played no role in its wide-ranging subpoena of two months of AP phone records involving 20 cellular, personal and business lines used by over 100 wire service reporters and editors. Yost also did not address whether DOJ received judicial approval for its fishing expedition, a question the AP's Mark Sherman identified last night as unresolved.
It apparently hasn't occurred to Yost that if an Attorney General is aware that his underlings are about to engage in blatant, First Amendment-chilling prosecutorial overreach and intimidation -- a characterization the reporter himself made clear is shared by critics of all political stripes -- merely removing oneself from the case is a completely insufficient reaction. Instead, the AG is duty-bound to order it not to happen, and to remove anyone who chooses to defy his order. If the AG supports what his people have done, then he's responsible for the results and fallout. That's how being the boss is supposed to work. Excerpts from Yost's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Et tu, Roberto? It was bad enough for President Obama to have Andrea Mitchell jump ship this morning. But now someone who is—arguably—even closer to home has taken a resounding shot at the President's mishandling of the IRS scandal.
Appearing on Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon, former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs condemned the president's "exceedingly passive" language in discussing the scandal. Obama had said there'd be consequences "if" wrongdoing were found, and spoken of "losing patience." Gibbs was scathing: that's what "I do with my nine-year old." Ouch! View the video after the jump.
While Monday's NBC Nightly News was content to accept President Obama labeling the Benghazi scandal as a "political circus" worthy of ridicule, on Fox News Channel's Special Report, chief Washington correspondent James Rosen was actually being a journalist and fact-checking the commander-in-chief's deceptive assertions on the controversy.
Introducing the Nightly News report on Obama attempting to downplay the scandal during a midday press conference, anchor Brian Williams announced: "...the President took the opportunity to hit back hard over accusations of some sort of a cover-up, saying that defies logic."
It's been a busy week full of news stories highly damaging to liberals, from the damning testimony about Benghazi to revelations that the Obama IRS targeted the Tea Party to yesterday's conviction of Philadelphia abortionist and infanticidal maniac Kermit Gosnell.
So we at NewsBusters thought we'd show you how some conservative political cartoonists around the country were dealing with these developments in this week's edition of NB's ToonsDay:
President Obama knows he's in trouble when Andrea Mitchell—Andrea Mitchell!—proclaims the IRS and AP scandals to be among "the most outrageous excesses I've seen" in all her years in journalism [which pre-date Watergate]. The strength of Mitchell's statement drew gasps from Scarborough and Brzezinski. Then Ron Fournier, former AP editor now with the National Journal, darkly described the White House being "consumed" if it turns out someone there or in the Obama campaign had been aware of the IRS targeting of conservative groups. It happened on Morning Joe today.
But hey, President Obama still has his hangers-on. Take good old Carl Bernstein. As we reported, on yesterday's Morning Joe Bernstein blathered that he "can't imagine" that President Obama coudl be involved in the IRS mess. And there was Bernstein again today. When Fournier spoke of consequences of White House or Obama campaign knowledge of the IRS targeting, Bernstein quickly burped out that "we have no evidence of that whatsoever." Joe Scarborough had to remind the former Watergate reporter: "that's why you have investigations. You know that." View the video after the jump.
In a move which appears conveniently timed to coincide with a wave of other arguably more damaging bad news for the administration, the Associated Press has reported that the Department of Justice informed the wire service on Friday that it had secretly obtained two months of reporters' and editors' telephone records.
In the words of AP's Mark Sherman, in coverage late this afternoon, "the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012." Sherman also notes that "more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters," and that those records "were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year" (i.e., after Obama was safely re-elected). More from Sherman's report, a comment from yours truly, and several comments by others who have read AP's coverage follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In an interview with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory attempted to dismiss the growing Benghazi scandal for the Obama administration as a GOP political attack: "You've got Republicans talking about this being Watergate. One Republican raising the specter of impeachment. Conservative groups raising money off of the Benghazi story. Are you hurting your own credibility and your own find – fact-finding mission by politically overreaching?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, Gregory downplayed the Benghazi terrorist attack as just one incident among many that have "happened throughout our recent history....spanning Republican and Democratic administrations, including President Bush's administration." He then tried to pin the blame on Congress: "Why is there not more of an effort to beef up security after these attacks happen....And isn't this Congress's job to spend the money to beef up security?"
During a report on Monday's NBC Today about the Benghazi and IRS scandals wracking the Obama administration, a headline on screen wondered if they were the result of "Obama's Second Term Curse?" White House correspondent Peter Alexander lamented: "Fewer than four months since his ambitious inaugural address, President Obama is facing significant political obstacles.... Some observers are already asking if Mr. Obama is falling victim to the second term curse."
After Alexander detailed second-term problems for past presidents, "From Watergate to Iran-Contra, even Bill Clinton's impeachment," a sound bite followed of NBC's liberal presidential historian Michael Beschloss offering this bit of advice to Obama: "The presidents who have weathered these crises best have been those who do not let themselves get distracted."
"This is the New York Times's take on how to turn something that's Nixonian into something that's 'oh, it's just conservatives turning another issue, making it political.'" Gainor said of The New York Times specifically and the media in general. "They spun it out, trying to take it away from being the awful scandal that it is."
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Monday exposed new details about the growing scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservatives. The correspondent revealed, "I've obtained a soon-to-be released investigative report that shows the IRS started targeting Tea Party groups more than three years ago." He added that this was "despite [the IRS] publicly claiming otherwise."
According to the journalist, phrases such as "limiting government," "educating on the Bill of Rights" and "criticizing how the country is being run" were enough to have the IRS start tracking them. However, Karl steered clear of culpability when it came to the Obama administration. He explained, "The White House said it had no idea that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
Scandalous news that the Internal Revenue Service intimidated nonprofit opponents of the Obama administration made page 11 of Saturday's New York Times.
The IRS apology to Tea Party and other conservative organizations for politically motivated targeting of their nonprofit status was dealt with in mild fashion by reporter Jonathan Weisman, though not on the front page. "I.R.S. Apologizes to Tea Party Groups Over Audits of Applications for Tax Exemption." The same audits that were applauded last year by the Times' s editorial page. And a Monday front-page follow-up was topped with what even liberal journalists found a bizarre headline: "IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On." That's the story?
As NewsBusters has been reporting all morning, the folks on MSNBC's Morning Joe almost unanimously came down on the Obama administration for using the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate its political opponents.
Putting an exclamation point on the outrage late in Monday's program were co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist who shockingly agreed, "This is tyranny" (video follows with transcript and absolutely no need for additional commentary):