MSNBC’s Chris Matthews grilled White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday night, as he tried to understand why Obama only learned of the Department of Justice’s investigation of the Associated Press after the story had broken in the newspapers.
Matthews: The problem with arguing is, we had a recent administration, the Bush Administration, W’s Administration, the President announced there was an investigation of the leaks regarding Scooter Libby and the rest of those people. That was all conducted in the public light. By the way, how could the President or anybody in the White House imagine this thing was going to be kept secret with “AP” being subpoenaed for all those records? So that it was only a matter of telling him ahead of time so that he could…
Carney:…It wasn’t a question of…
Matthews: … an effective chief executive.
Carney: Chris, I think, again, it’s not a question of keeping it secret. It is not, in our view, appropriate for the White House to be involved in an ongoing criminal investigation.
Matthews: Not even to know what was going on? Okay.
Carney: I would ask you to consider the alternative to that and to, as you know, because you’ve covered this and been, you know, around here for a long time, you know what past history here tells us about involvement of White Houses in criminal investigations led by the Justice Department.
Matthews: You saw what I saw, Jay. Jon Stewart the other night did a wonderful parody of it, it’s a tragic parody, of the President time after time saying, “I heard it in the papers. I read it in the news.” Learning things other people are learning as they learned it. It seems like to run the United States Government is to be ahead of the game.
Carney tried his best to spin this as a question of how it would look if the White House was involved in a criminal investigation, but that wasn’t the question. The question was, why wasn’t the President informed of this investigation and why did he have to read about it in the newspapers, as he claimed?
Matthews has been critical of the Obama White House all week long on how they have handled the scandals. You know it’s bad when he actually makes a favorable comparison about how the Bush administration handled leak investigations.
The White House needs a crisis management team to handle the barrage of scandals that have overwhelmed Carney, and made his 2006 prediction that he wouldn’t be a very good press secretary come true.