“Ugh.” That was the reported response of one progressive activist when he heard the news that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records from the Associated Press. The latest “scandal” comes after last week’s revelations that the IRS targeted conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The AP mess also follows the ongoing back-and-forth over the White House’s ramp up and response to last September’s attacks in Benghazi, Libya. On Monday, President Obama used a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron to downplay the GOP’s fixation on Benghazi, calling it a “sideshow.” However, the President was not as dismissive about the Internal Revenue Service, calling the reports “outrageous” and “contrary to our traditions.” But this was before word of Justice’s probe of the AP went public. For its part, the DOJ said in a statement, “Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media.” The AP called the move a “massive and unprecedented intrusion,” but the White House says it had “no knowledge”of the collection of the records. Regardless of the public stances the organizations are taking at this juncture, the conventional wisdom in Washington and in the media is that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has some explaining to do. Will the swarm of scandal infect the White House and undermine the President’s second term (not to mention the Democrats’ hopes in 2014 and even 2016)? We’ll try to juggle all the political footballs when we see you at noon ET on msnbc.
Howard Fineman, Editorial Director, Huffington Post Media/msnbc analyst (@howardfineman)
Karen Finney, Fmr. DNC Communications Director/msnbc Political Analyst (@finneyk)
Frank Foer, Editor, The New Republic (@franklinfoer)
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine (@jonathanchait)
Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL (@ilyseh)