WaPo's Capehart on NBC's 'Today': Obama Administration 'Remarkably Free of Scandal'
Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, left-wing Washington Post opinion writer and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart dismissed a congressional investigation into the Solyndra debacle as just "the GOP looking to scratch, trying to find a scandal in an administration that is remarkably free of scandal."
After co-host Lester Holt noted that "Republicans have seemed to caught a whiff of scandal" with Solyndra, Capehart argued: "...it's the only program that failed, Solyndra. And also, the other thing to keep in mind is that this is a program that was started – a process that was started under President George W. Bush."
As The Hill reported on Monday, a second company backed by an Energy Department loan, filed for bankruptcy. Beacon Hill Corp., an energy storage company, received $43 million in 2010.
Capehart's claim that the Bush administration was responsible for the Solyndra loan was also inaccurate, given that an Energy Department panel under President Bush voted down approval of the loan prior to Barack Obama taking office.
In another example of NBC bringing on a liberal to downplay an Obama administration scandal, on Sunday's Meet the Press: Press Pass, host David Gregory asked Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings what Congressional Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa was "up to" by investigating the Fast and Furious gun-tracking scandal.
Cummings ranted: "I really think this is a witch hunt....a lot of this is politics. Trying to make this U.S. attorney look bad, that is the Attorney General. Then trying to make the President look bad....I talked a little bit earlier about these efforts to destroy this president. I think this is part of it."
Here is a full transcript of Capehart's October 29 Today appearance:
LESTER HOLT: Now to politics and the race for the White House. The first GOP primary is just over two months away and with the clock ticking, the challengers are stepping up their attacks on each other and the President. Jonathan Capehart is a political analyst and MSNBC contributor. Jonathan, good morning. Good to see you.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Good morning, Lester. Great to be here.
HOLT: Before we talk about the race, I want to talk about something Republicans have seemed to caught a whiff of scandal, potentially, in the Obama administration, with regard to stimulus loans made by the Energy Department to green companies. One of them, Solyndra, just went into bankruptcy to the tune of $500 billion – or half a billion dollars. What does that mean for the White House, who suddenly appointed an independent investigator here?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama's Energy Crisis? Bankrupt Company Touted By Obama Costs Taxpayers About $500M]
CAPEHART: Well, look, the White House is trying to get ahead of wherever congressional investigators are trying to go. This – the thing to keep in mind is that Solyndra, as you said, 500 – half a billion dollars in loan guarantees lost, in a program that's 38 to 40 billion dollars. It's a huge program, it's the only program that failed, Solyndra. And also, the other thing to keep in mind is that this is a program that was started – a process that was started under President George W. Bush. So we're looking at the GOP looking to scratch, trying to find a scandal in an administration that is remarkably free of scandal.
HOLT: Alright. I want to turn to now the presidential politics. Michele Bachmann, Tea Party favorite, came out of the Ames straw poll as the winner. She was in the news for about a day after that and has fallen off the radar. And now there's controversy within the Tea Party about where she's going and whether this is the person they should be wrapping their arms around. What's going on?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Is the Tea Party Over For Michele Bachmann?]
CAPEHART: What's going on is I think there's some Tea Party factions that want to win. They want to get behind a candidate who they think can get to the nomination and do the things that they want to do in terms of shrinking the deficit, bringing the federal government to heel in terms of government spending. And right now, it doesn't look like Michele Bachmann is going to be that the person.
HOLT: Help me understand what's going on with Rick Perry. Is folks now are saying he may only compete in one more debate. Now we've heard a lot that he's struggled in debates. But what would lead him to perhaps not appear in any more?
CAPEHART: The previous five debates, where his debate performance has just been horrendous. Remember, you mentioned Michele-
HOLT: But that's waving the surrender sign, though, isn't it?
CAPEHART: Pretty much, yes. Remember, when he came into the race he stomped all over Michele Bachmann's day in the sun. She won the Ames, Iowa straw poll and the next day he announces and he's riding high. He hits that first debate, he stumbles. Second debate, he stumbles. All the way through. If you're Rick Perry and you see your poll numbers sliding down and it's because – you can trace it back to your debate performances, would you want to show up at the next debate? No. But it's, I think a tactical mistake on his part because it looks like he's scared.
HOLT: Interesting turn of events. Jonathan Capehart, good to have you here.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lester.
HOLT: Thanks very much.
CAPEHART: Thank you.