Saturday, May 18

Obama evades reporter's question on whether WH knew about IRS. "Non-denial denial"?

Last Thursday, just after the revelation by Lois Lerner that the IRS had targeted conservative groups, Obama held a press conference with the Prime Minister of Turkey.  Since the IRS policy had just been revealed, afterward Bloomberg reporter Julianna Goldman asked Obama, "Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your Counsel’s Office found out on April 22nd?” 
 
Obama replied, “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press."

This strikes most people as a responsive answer, and it certainly sounds as if he's saying neither he nor anyone on the White House staff knew about the outrageous IRS policy before it was "leaked."

But wait a second:  the reporter didn’t mention the inspector-general’s report.  Why did it occur to Obama to mention that in his "answer?"

Moreover, the reporter clearly asked whether anybody in the White House knew (though phrased in the negative).  Obama didn't respond to that part either.

If you're older than 35 or so this careful phrasing--a "non-denial denial," as they say--may sound familiar.  It's the exact same tactic infamously used by Bill Clinton in denying any sex with Monica Lewinski.  

That would be the Slick Willy who parried an investigator's question with the famous line, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

Charles Krauthammer thinks the president’s rhetorical handling of the IRS scandal makes even Bill Clinton's word games look unsophisticated.

Absolutely.  But no one in the press will *ever* ask Obama the more careful followup question that would either pin him down or reveal the too-clever parry.  Because that would get them kicked off the A-list for party invitations.

And so it goes.

Oh all right, you got me:  I'll admit the link is to a biased, partisan, unreliable website that constantly tries to mislead its millions of viewers.  So this report is probably totally made up.  If you click on the link, go to "read the transcript" and do a search for Julianna Goldman.

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