White House Press Secretary Still In The Hot Seat

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney started a new week much as he ended the last one—under assault from all sides of the White House press corps

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Jason Reed / Reuters

White House press secretary Jay Carney at the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 2013.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney started a new week much as he ended the last one—under assault from all sides of the White House press corps Monday, as a reporters seized on new scandal revelations and demanded more information.

Time and again, Carney refused to address news that the Justice Department seized phone and email records of Fox News reporter James Rosen as part of a leak investigation. “I cannot comment on a specific ongoing investigation,” he said, in one form or another, nearly a dozen times.

As for the still developing IRS scandal, Carney changed the administration’s tune from last week. For the first time, he admitted that senior White House officials, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, were informed of the IRS investigation by the counsel’s office before news of the investigation leaked to the press. Last week, he said only the White House counsel’s office was informed before it was released publicly. “I didn’t know until Friday, but I didn’t—you know, I’m getting this information to you now,” he told reporters. Who exactly in the White House had been informed?  “I don’t have a list for you,” Carney said.

The White House appeared to be regaining its footing from a troika of scandals late last week as Obama announced the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner, released the full Benghazi emails and parried questions about the subpoena of phone records from the Associated Press. But for Carney, there has scarcely been a let-up in the pressure. He has been under fire for at least two weeks now, beginning with new details about the Benghazi attack from whistleblowers testifying before Congress. It was amplified by emails of internal deliberations over talking points after the Benghazi attack that showed a more involved editing hand than he let on in November. Senior administration officials later said Carney hadn’t reviewed those emails before he spoke out about them.

On Monday, Carney reaffirmed that senior aides did not inform Obama before news of the audit broke publicly, saying it was “appropriate” for the top aides to keep that information from the president, but rebuffing the assertion that he was being insulated from the scandal as “absurd.”

“The suggestion that the president should have been notified and done something about an ongoing criminal investigation—and I would suggest to you that that would truly be a story,” he said, setting aside the possibility that Obama, like his aides, could be informed without taking action.

Carney, who told The New York Times last week that he finds the job “enjoyable” in the midst of swirling scandals, seemed to be finding it less so on Monday. His frequent refrain of ‘appreciating’ questions gave way to the decidedly less welcome “I understand the question” as reporters used his former career as a TIME journalist to repeatedly prod into the administration’s tough approach toward national security leaks.

“The president believes it’s important that we find the proper balance between the need—absolute need to protect our secrets and to prevent leaks that can jeopardize the lives of Americans and can jeopardize our national security interests on the one hand and the need for—to defend the First Amendment and protect the ability of reporters to pursue investigative journalism,” Carney said.

Rosen was deemed a co-conspirator by the DOJ in an effort to seize phone and email records without notifying the reporter—the latest disclosure of the administration’s aggressive investigations of  national security leaks.

16 comments
ahandout
ahandout

How did this line escape the Obama boot lickers in the Time's editing room?

"It was amplified by emails of internal deliberations over talking points after the Benghazi attack that showed a more involved editing hand than he let on in November."

Well that's it; Time has jumped the sinking Obama ship.

ahandout
ahandout

Really (not) surprised to see the same old names here regurgitating the same old BS.  Carney will be seeking a new job soon.  Maybe he can open a magazine stand.  His credibility is zero.  This administration is totally out of control.  Meanwhile Barry says "trust me" just like a two-bit used car salesman. 

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Is it August already? Has the "Silly Season" already begun?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

The Post-Crisis Era of Economic Growth and Scandals People Don't Care About Has Arrived

Last December, Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal and I were talking at a holiday party about the risk that 2013 would be a post-crisis era in which basically good economic news made our jobs boring and diminished audience interest in what we do. Six months later, I think it's safe to say that the scenario has arrived. The return of 1990s-style scandal politics after long years of "war on terror" and economic crisis is one tell. The larger tell is that the scandals aren't driving Barack Obama's approval ratings into the mud.

One interpretation of that is that people don't care, at all, about the (real) mismanagement at the IRS, the (fake) Benghazi cover-up conspiracy, or the more-detailed-than-ever revelations about the Obama administration's crackdown on investigative journalism. But that seems unlikely. Certainly I've ratcheted my estimate of the administration down a peg or two over some of what's come out over the past two weeks.

The more reasonable theory, detailed by Nate Silver today, is that losses are simply being offset by improved news about the economy. Certainly we can see that poll questions that drill down specifically into assessments of economic conditions are all pointing up. Normally you'd expect increasing consumer confidence and growing optimism about the state of the economy to lead to rising presidential approval ratings. And anyone who remembers the 1990s will remember that these kind of fundamentals ultimately trump everything else. If things are going well for people in their actual lives, they'll be relatively content with the powers that be no matter what the news out of congressional hearings is. The bad news for America, the world, and Obama's approval rating is that the state of the economy in 2013 is nowhere near as good as the state of the economy in 1998.

But it is greatly improved from where we were two years ago. Even better, on the legislative front congress seems to have turned away from the pointless quest for a grand bargain and toward the quest for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Scandalmania does not appear to be derailing immigration reform. In fact, by de-centering Obama from the process it's arguably helping immigration reform by keeping the focus on the bipartisan Group of 8. And immigration reform, unlike a grand bargain, will give the economy a short-term boost and further improve matters.

 http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/05/21/post_crisis_era_strong_obama_approval_despite_scandal_coverage.html

barneydidit
barneydidit

Oh oh....In 5 years in office the Obama administration has presided over 3 scandals- One perpetrated by a Bush appointee, one at least partially linked to funding cuts Republicans initiated, and one in which Fox News seems to be complaining about not being treated "fairly"...May must be ironic month for Conservatives. 

drudown
drudown

@ahandout 

You and your skewed reality of a "sinking ship". Record gains by the stock market, the housing market continues to rebound and...you are still whining about deliberately opaque Benghazi talking points. I mean this sincerely: get a life.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout Poor troll. The only thing that is sinking are the GOP's chances of ever being relevant again. They do nothing to boost the economy and hinder the people that do. Somehow I don't think that is what the majority of Americans had in mind when they elected these clowns.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@mantisdragon91 And you know why the economy is improving don't you mantis? The Republican-run House has hit upon the exact number of attempts at repealing Obamacare it takes to get the economy moving in the right direction.

Sherm
Sherm

@barneydidit So as long as you have fewer scandals than the last guy, it's okay?  The blame Bush excuse is no longer working.  And you forgot Fast and Furious.

drudown
drudown

@Sherm @barneydidit 

Conspicuously, unlike Bush/Cheney's "scandals" (e.g., $4trillion+ war that killed a million innocent Iraqis and materially depleted our Treasury and military resources)...NONE of the purported "scandals" in the current Administration have financially prejudiced the People a single dime. 

Well, besides the fiscal waste over beating the Benghazi horse to death.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Sherm @mantisdragon91 @barneydidit Poor Sherm. I think you will be very disappointed when you read the glowing reviews this administration gets in the history books for cleaning up the disasters created by 8 years of GOP rule, all the while being obstructed by the same GOP clowns that created the messes in the first place.

anon76
anon76

@Sherm

"verbally threatening Bob Woodward":

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/exclusive-the-woodward-sperling-emails-revealed-88226.html?hp=t1_3

Which was the most threatening part?

"I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad."

or

"I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."

or

"My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize."

Goodness, what a ferocious attack!

Sherm
Sherm

@mantisdragon91 @Sherm @barneydidit The administrations's media shield was still working on Fast and Furious.  After the AP/DOJ scandal and other incidents of media harassment, like verbally threatening Bob Woodward, the media is not going to provide cover for future scandals.