While sparring with Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos channeled his inner Hillary Clinton on the issue of the terrorist attack in Benghazi. On the subject of who, specifically, told United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to use faulty talking points, the Good Morning America co-anchor asserted, "Well, what difference will that make if the White House has already put out the talking points and said that they were written by the CIA with the input of other agencies? " [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
In comparison, on January 23, 2013, while testifying in front of Congress about Libya, Hillary Clinton said of the details of the attack: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?" Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, attempted to turn the President into the victim.
"A lot is coming at him," the journalist sympathized. He continued, "You've got the Justice Department investigation. You've got the IRS investigation...You've got Benghazi all at the same time. This feels like that second term curse we hear so much about. "
NBC White House reporter Peter Alexander used the exact same language on Monday, worrying that Obama is "falling victim to the second term curse."
After Stephanopoulos insisted that Obama has attempted to clear the air on Benghazi, the IRS scandal and the news that the Associated Press record have been secretly subpoenad by the Justice Department, O'Reilly retorted, "No, he hasn't done it, George, unless you were on vacation. He hasn't done it."
A transcript of the May 14 segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on this now with Bill O'Reilly, host of the O'reilly Factor" on Fox News, best-selling author with a new book, Keep It Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World. I know you're going to be back in the last half hour to talk about the book, Bill. But let's start out with these investigations. First the new one overnight, AP subpoenaed by the Justice Department.
BILL O'REILLY: Yeah, I mean I don't think that's going to amount to much because it looks like they went through the warrant process and they had authorization to look at these records, the Justice Department did. But President Obama, he's got some problems now. He better start to get control of the situation because there's a lot of stuff going on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot is coming at him. You've got the Justice Department investigation. You've got the IRS investigation.
O'REILLY: And the Benghazi thing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've got Benghazi all at the same time. This feels like that second term curse we hear so much about.
O'REILLY: Well, you know it better than anyone. If a president starts to lose control of the agenda and is on the defensive all the time, can't govern. So if I were Barack Obama, I would hold a press conference and clear the air and start to tell-- I'm not saying that he's lying, but he certainly can clarify the stories.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's take the first one. The IRS, first of all. The White House says that they're not even allowed to talk to the IRS about this.
O'REILLY: I believe that. I absolutely believe that. So, he's got to tell that to the American people. Not you and me. Him. But Benghazi, he's got exposure on that all day long. Get up there and explain what happened. Starting with Ambassador Rice. Who told her to say it? You explain it, Mr. President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hasn't he done that? Isn't that exactly what he did yesterday?
O'REILLY: No, he hasn't done it, George, unless you were on vacation. He hasn't done it. He needs to do it. Who did it? Do you know who told Rice to do it? Do you know who told Rice to go out and mislead everybody?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think she would told to go out and mislead anybody. She was given talking points--
O'REILLY: By who?
STEPHANOPOULOS: --that the White House has said time and time again were prepared by the CIA with editing from the State Department and other–
O'REILLY: Who? Who gave her, handed her these that talking points that turned out to be bogus? Who? We need to know the name. All right? We need to know who that person was, where it came from and who ordered that to happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what difference will that make if the White House has already put out the talking points and said that they were written by the CIA with the input of other agencies?
O'REILLY: Okay, because the CIA denies it. Petraeus was uncomfortable with it. He was the CIA chief, All right? So there's no clarity in this. And the President is the leader of the nation. A leader provides clarity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, your basic point, he's just got to get a lot more aggressive with all of this?
O'REILLY: He's got to start, basically, define the stories. I believe him on the IRS. I don't think the AP is going to be that big a deal. They're going to have to say why they wanted the records, but Benghazi, that's a big story and he's drowning in it and he better get on top of it because if not it's going to go on forever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Advice for the President from Bill O'Reilly.