MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough gave a verbal flogging to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on “Morning Joe” Wednesday over the dip in President Obama and Congress’s approval numbers just out in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Carney began the segment noting that Obama is set to kick off a series of economy-centered speeches later Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill. He said Obama is aiming to refocus Washington’s attention on jobs even while Congress — meaning congressional Republicans — want to focus “on other things.”
“You brought up phony scandals,” Scarborough jumped in. “That’s like throwing red meat in the middle of dogs, so I’ve got to ask you: What phony scandals? Do you think the IRS scandal is a phony scandal?
“I think what we’ve seen is inappropriate activity that the President said he would not tolerate,” Carney replied, “and that he installed somebody at the IRS to take care of it.” Carney continued, saying that Republicans have “cherry-picked information that turns out to be only one side of the story.”
Officials at the IRS are under a congressional investigation for the unfair scrutiny of politically conservative groups seeking non-profit status.
“I want to get to the economy,” Scarborough said, “we have to clean up this one thing though.” He went on about the IRS scandal, noting that former officials in the agency have testified that it reaches high-levels in Washington, close to the Obama administration. Carney gave a skeptical smirk, setting Scarborough off.
“I see you smiling. I don’t know that there’s anything to smile about,” Scarborough said. “It doesn’t sound phony to me, Jay.”
Carney attempted to respond, accusing Scarborough of parroting congressional Republicans.
Scarborough: “I want to talk about the economy, but talk to me. Don’t give me talking points because it doesn’t work on this show and you’ve been here long enough to know it doesn’t work on this show. So answer my question and then let’s talk about the economy.”
Carney: When you get to the question, I’ll answer. Here it is…”
Scarborough: “I gave you the question and you decided to fight me, Jay, so stop your games with me. We’ve known each other for too long. I’m not somebody you talk down to from your podium. Answer my question, Jay.”
Carney: “Joe, please, let me answer. There is no question that the activity at the IRS was inappropriate and the president made clear that he wanted to take care of it and he appointed somebody who’s doing that.”
Obama’s approval rating is at 45 percent among adults, according to the poll. It’s his lowest rating since Aug. 2011.