Well, that was quick, and sadly predictable. A day after MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel criticized President Obama for his lack of transparency on the three scandals plaguing his administration, the panel kicked off their Thursday show by heaping praise on the president for yesterday’s news conference.
Co-host and liberal activist Mika Brzezinski "felt good about" the conference, lauding the president’s courage for "doing the thing he doesn’t like to do" and promising that things would "get done" (in other words, his job). Panelist Willie Geist chimed in with his agreement, gushing over how the president "encountered" and "took action" on all three of the scandals in one day. There was no word from Geist about President Obama’s silence on both recent scandals up until yesterday, and his refusal to address the Benghazi attacks for more than eight months.
Satisfied with the president’s brief press conference, the panelists effectively declared these controversies over. Regular Morning Joe guest Donny Deutsch sneered that the "average person" won’t care about the scandals because they only vote by "their pocketbooks."
[According to a] Pew [poll], only 44 percent of this country is following Benghazi. None of these three things are going to stick. We get hysterical in the media. Come election time, November 2014, voters are going to care what they always care about: their pocketbooks.
Deutsch later doubled down, confidently claiming that Republicans will try and use the scandals against President Obama and that their attempts will backfire:
I do think they [Republicans] are going to use it. I think it is going to back fire. In reality it's a couple rogue guys. This is not the president. It doesn't go up to the president.
Co-host Brzezinski responded by, unsurprisingly, further bashing conservatives (and anyone questioning the Obama administration, it seems):
But you’ve heard the crazy stuff these people say about the president when they're clinging on to nothing.
Deutsch and Brzezinski continued mocking conservatives and the Tea Party, Deutsch berating the "crazy, crazy, crazy social issue stuff," until equally liberal panelist Mike Barnicle shot back, sarcastically calling out his colleagues:
I would have to give a lot of credibility to Donny’s argument because nowhere is America better represented in terms of who we are than in the upper east side of Manhattan.
Deutsch laughed, responding that although not "representative" of the American people, he is a "wise, grizzled media analyst." At least Deutsch was right about being unrepresentative of most Americans. If only the entire Morning Joe panel would recognize the same.
6:02 a.m. Eastern
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: A lot to cover this morning, Willie. It starts obviously with the president's news conference. It was late yesterday evening dealing with the IRS scandal. I felt good about it, because he was doing the thing that he doesn't like to do, which was get out in front of something and be emphatic and forceful and say it's going to get fixed, it's going to get done and then he walked right out the door. I still have some questions but overall point of view, Willie?
WILLIE GEIST: Well, in one day he addressed all three of the scandals that are plaguing the White House. He release e-mails on Benghazi, he accepted the resignation of the acting head of the IRS and he called for a media shield law regarding this AP story. So he finally personally encountered all three of those and took action.
BRZEZINSKI: And I think that front and center – confronting something directly to everybody is very effective. Donny, I'll let you speak.
DONNY DEUTSCH: I mean the one knock on him throughout his presidency is that kind of lack of grabbing, testosterone, take charge. Having said that...Pew, only 44 percent of this country is following Benghazi. None of these three things are going to stick. We get hysterical in the media. Come election time, November 2014, voters are going to care what they always care about: their pocketbooks.
DEUTSCH: It’s that simple. I also think voters at this point are anesthetized. You know – guess what, Benghazi, maybe the Democrats are trying to shift the message. Wow. That's what politicians do. We get very hysterical. I think to the voter, to the average person out there, trying to live their lives, none of this stuff sticks.
BRZEZINSKI: I disagree. I think one of them will. Michael Crowley, if one were to stick which would it be?
MICHAEL CROWLEY: I think the IRS scandal.
CROWLEY: Resonates with Americans in a really powerful way. People are just predisposed to hate the agency and nothing makes people go wild like the idea that there's kind of political bias, that the power of the government is being used to pursue a partisan political agenda by people who ought to be nonpartisan and objective. That goes straight to the heart of something that Americans really cherish. I think that, you know, Benghazi, I think people find a little confusing. As Donny just noted, the polls suggest people are not that riled up about it. Frankly I'm not sure if you ask the average American whether they think it's more important on the AP case, you know, a counterterror investigation versus the right to the press. I'm not sure how it breaks down. It may not be so good for the press.
GEIST: The one thing I'll say, Mike, about the IRS. Donnie, I think you're wrong about the impact of it – 2014 if you think Republicans aren't going to use this as confirmation that big government is out to get you, you're wrong.
DEUTSCH: Let me push back. I do think they [Republicans] are going to use it. I think it is going to back fire. In reality it's a couple rogue guys. This is not the president. It doesn't go up to the president. And he’s going to throw anybody overboard –
BRZEZINSKI: But you’ve heard the crazy stuff these people say about the president when they're clinging on to nothing.
DEUTSCH: You're right. And basically what it’s going to do is force in the primaries to galvanize the Tea Party. You're going to get more extremist candidates. They’re going to lose in general election. Come general election time if somebody voted against background checks for guns, if somebody is still doing the crazy, crazy, crazy social issue stuff, I disagree with you.
MIKE BARNICLE: I would have to give a lot of credibility to Donny’s argument because nowhere is America better represented in terms of who we are than in the upper east side of Manhattan.
DEUTSCH: I'm not speaking as a representative. I'm speaking as a wise, grizzled media analyst.
GEIST: You're dismissing that scandal. But aren't you viscerally offended and upset by a government agency singling out Americans?
DEUTSCH: Of course I am. But I don't think it's the Democratic Party. I think it's a few idiots. Okay? I think the American people are sophisticated enough to know that.
BRZEZINSKI: I think you can be reasonable and assume it was a few idiots.
DEUTSCH: I’m giving the American people a lot of credit.
CROWLEY: To this point if I can jump in I feel like I think a lot of people are not clear on this that although they screwed up horribly what the people at the IRS were trying to do was address a huge problem, structural problem in American politics, which is these nonprofit groups are pretending to essentially be social welfare charities. They're pumping huge amounts of money into elections. It is a problem for all Americans on both sides.