Charlie Rose Wonders If Republicans Will 'Overplay Their Hand' on Obama Scandals

In the latest instance of liberal journalists thinking alike, Charlie Rose asked practically the same question on Friday's CBS This Morning that ABC's George Stephanopoulos did on Good Morning America. Rose wondered if congressional Republicans "may overplay their hand and somehow squander what they think is opportunity" on the three scandals currently surrounding the Obama White House.

The CBS anchor proposed this question not even four minutes after Stephanopoulos asked ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl, "Are some of [the GOP] leaders worried that some of the Republicans may be overplaying their hand?

Rose and co-anchor Norah O'Donnell brought on correspondent Major Garrett to discuss the IRS, Justice Department/AP, and Benghazi controversies. O'Donnell first asked, "How much has the White House been on the defensive this week, and what are they doing?" Garrett replied, in part, that he had "covered lots of White Houses in defensive crouches in the middle of a scandal, and this White House feels about the same as those previous ones – hunkered down and trying to get its message out over the din of scandal-related questions."

The CBS journalist continued by forwarding the administration's spin on each scandal:

MAJOR GARRETT: The White House feels...that they've succeeded in, at least, putting some distance between the President and the IRS scandal; a great distance between the President and the scandal involving the Justice Department search of phone logs from the Associated Press; and they're still dealing with Benghazi, but they believe that wound has largely been cauterized by the release of more than 100 pages of e-mails about all the conversation there. So, on balance, the White House feels it's in stronger position today than it was on Monday, when it felt like it was a bit under siege.

Rose then asked his "overplaying their hand" question. Garrett answered by asserting that "in politics, that is always possible, and it's a huge concern the Republican leaders have on Capitol Hill. They don't want rank and file members to lob charges that can't be substantiated by the facts....The White House believes its greatest ally, in all these scandals, are Republicans who overreach, and they will try to exploit that to the maximum whenever they can."

Near the end of the segment, O'Donnell and Garrett discussed a detail of the IRS scandal that Stephanopoulos and ABC journalist Jonathan Karl omitted during their segment: how the former head of the office that targeted conservative groups, while giving a pass to liberal ones, now leads the division that will be handling ObamaCare:

NORAH O'DONNELL: And Major, what about the concern that the woman who directed the IRS unit that deals with these tax-exempt organizations and targeting these conservative groups is also in charge at the IRS of ObamaCare and enforcing ObamaCare?

GARRETT: That's right. Sarah Hall Ingram is her name. I've asked several White House officials this morning, is that a position that she's going to retain going forward, because that has policy implications and it has political implications. And Republicans are really going to shift this IRS question – not just from what past practices, which the President called unforgivable and unpardonable – but also, what the IRS will do in the implementation of the President's health care law.

Now, this woman, Sarah Hall Ingram, who was there at the tax-exempt office when these questionable practices were under taken, is now at the very position of implementing that IRS supervision and gathering of fees or taxes under ObamaCare...She will be a political target for Republicans – and a juicy one at that – and the White House knows it.

Earlier, Rose had also wondered if "the White House worries that this will preempt everything else – take the attention of Washington on scandal, and not on immigration reform and a whole lot of other issues." Garrett claimed that "the immigration issue seems completely untouched by all of this scandal/controversy. It is moving on its own momentum." He added, however, that "because of the IRS issue, significant Republicans I've talked to don't believe a grand bargain on federal budget issues is possible with this White House."

The full transcript of the Major Garrett segment from Friday's CBS This Morning is available at

Congress Libya Government Agencies Immigration Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals IRS Targets Tea Party CBS CBS This Morning Charlie Rose Major Garrett Norah O'Donnell Barack Obama
Matthew Balan's picture