Obama Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer went on all five Sunday talk shows to offer the administration’s defense on three scandal fronts, but was pressed by veteran CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer on why the White House didn’t send the chief of staff.
Pfeiffer looked uncomfortable when Schieffer said, “I mean this as no disrespect to you: Why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House chief of staff here to tell us what happened?”
Pfeiffer attempted to put out fires for the Obama administration as it found itself engulfed in three controversies the past week: the Benghazi attack, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and an FBI probe of Associated Press phone records.
The White House adviser showed up on all five shows, saying essentially the same thing on each, oftentimes practically verbatim. But Schieffer, host of “Face the Nation” on CBS wasn’t so quick to let Pfeiffer fire off his talking points.
“When the executive branch does things right there doesn’t seem to be any hesitancy for the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed the president didn’t waste any time getting out there and telling people about it,” Schieffer said. “But with all these things, when these things happen you seem to send out officials that don’t even seem to know what has happened.”
Susan Rice, who had no connection to Benghazi events, appeared for the administration on all five Sunday shows five days after the Sept. 11 terror attack last year. What she said, that the attack was the result of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Muslim video made in the United States, was untrue, Schieffer noted.
“That was a just P.R. plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened,” Schieffer said. “Why did you do that? Why didn’t the secretary of state come and tell us what they knew. And if you knew nothing, say, ‘We don’t know yet.’ Why didn’t the White House chief of staff come out?”
Pfeiffer said Rice was speaking from the same information that everyone in the administration had, and that it was the consensus of the intelligence community at the time. He didn’t address why he was picked to appear to defend the administration on this week’s Sunday talk shows.
After the tough grilling, Schieffer smiled and said, “I want to thank you for coming this morning. I know this is not an easy job for you. Do you kind of feel like someone who drew the black bean here? You’re the one who has to go out and try to explain?”
“Oh, no,” Pfeiffer replied, laughing “It’s a privilege to be here with you, Bob.”
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By Greg Richter