Earlier this week, Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that she believed the CIA had hacked into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. After Ms. Feinstein’s shocking revelations, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was met with a barrage of questions from reporters on the subject, but Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent had perhaps the most bizarre and unnecessarily partisan comment directed towards Carney.
Appearing at the press briefing on Tuesday March 11, Todd chose to use the opportunity to attack Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and claimed that “This is not Darrell Issa making this allegation; this is Dianne Feinstein, Mark Udall, Patrick Leahy, Harry Reid all taking the Senate floor, making this allegation about the CIA.” [See video below.]
Todd’s hit on Congressman Issa continued after Carney attempted to dodge the question, and repeated the line that “It’s not a hypothetical. Dianne Feinstein is the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee making this allegation… This is not -- again, this is not Darrell Issa; this is not some partisan hit.”
The rest of Todd’s questioning was fairly tough and he told Carney “This seems to be, then, either he’s [John Brennan] not running the CIA and he’s got folks that are being rogue underneath him and doing this without him, or he’s been involved in this.
Todd’s comments may have been done in jest, but to suggest that because a fellow Democrat was the one crying foul is what made the accusations against the CIA legitimate was an unnecessary shot at Congressman Issa. Todd’s questioning of Carney was perfectly reasonable without the added “This is not Darrell Issa; this is not some partisan hit” commentary tied to it but the NBC reporter still felt the need to get political and attack a high-ranking Republican.
See relevant transcript below.
White House Press Briefings
March 11, 2014
CHUCK TODD: I guess what I don’t understand -- is the administration not troubled -- this is not Darrell Issa making this allegation; this is Dianne Feinstein, Mark Udall, Patrick Leahy, Harry Reid all taking the Senate floor, making this allegation about the CIA. Is the President even troubled by the allegation? I mean, you have been very careful not to comment at all. I would assume that when Democratic senators -- and if he were still one, my guess is he would be on the floor raising this same eyebrow.
JAY CARNEY: Chuck, I mean, obviously the President is generally aware of the disputes that have -
TODD: He’s aware, but not troubled?
CARNEY: I’m not going to characterize his point of view on allegations that are under investigation. What I can say as a general matter is that everyone in this administration supports the perspective that Director Brennan expressed to Andrea Mitchell a couple of hours ago about the fact that if there’s any inappropriate activity that’s uncovered by these investigations, that he would support getting to the bottom of it. So that’s certainly our view, it’s the administration’s view.
TODD: But this seems to be, then, either he’s not running the CIA and he’s got folks that are being rogue underneath him and doing this without him, or he’s been involved in this.
CARNEY: You’re basing a question on a hypothetical about an outcome of an investigation.
TODD: It’s not a hypothetical. Dianne Feinstein is the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee making this allegation.
CARNEY: The allegation -- absolutely, the allegation exists and it’s under investigation.
TODD:This is not -- again, this is not Darrell Issa; this is not some partisan hit.
CARNEY: Absolutely. And we work very closely with Chairman Feinstein and --
TODD: But protects everything else, been very supportive of most of the controversial intelligence decisions that’s made by this administration. So one would think she’s got a lot of credibility here if she’s going to make an allegation like that.
CARNEY: And what I would say is that, appropriately, these matters are under review by the authorities that are supposed to review them, and that I’m not going to make an assessment about allegations that are under review or investigation.