THE FIVE

Mounting scandals costing Obama administration support?

White House facing credibility gap?

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," May 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Well, it had to hurt to wake up at the White House this morning and see this on the front page of USA Today. The big headline above the fold, "IRS Gave a Pass to Liberals", referring to one of three scandals threatening the administration. And that's just the beginning.

When Brian Williams is talking Watergate, Jon Stewart stops covering for you, and even tax cheat Charlie Rangel won't stick up for you, things are not looking good at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The last time the government was found looking into the phone calls of reporters and using the IRS for political purposes, it was the Nixon era.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Mr. President, when did you find out about the IRS targeting conservative groups?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.

STEWART: No one at the office thought to run that up the flagpole. I wouldn't be surprised if President Obama learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announcing it on television.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL, D-N.Y.: I don't think that anyone believes the president has given a sufficient answer for America. I think this is just the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

TANTAROS: You didn't just hallucinate. I promise that really happened.

And you know what, Eric? I want to congratulate the media today and the comedians. Finally, they are seeing what we have been saying for years, welcome to 2007.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Yes. No doubt. Of course, it's all on the heels of the A.P. scandal. They get a little taste of what we've been talking about for a long time.

But here's the problem: President Obama has a Chicago-style ring around him. Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Jack Lew, Jay Carney. They lock arms and they form a ring around President Obama, so that even if he is calling the shots from within the ring, that ring is shielding him as the blowback comes back to him.

But there's a way to break the ring. Remind people about all these scandals. We've got to stay on it. Benghazi is huge, guys. I mean, we can talk about "A.P." and IRS all we want. We've got to stay on Benghazi and we will later. But keep reminding people because in the voting booth, when people think about these scandals and go to vote in 2014, that's the way to send the message that we're not going to take any of this political elitism crop anymore.

TANTAROS: Can you blame the media, though, on some level, Greg? I mean, the vetting shouldn't happen in 2007, 2008. They wanted to be a part of history. They did not even want to report that he was untested or about his lack of records.

So, can we blame them for not reporting?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: You know that I would never blame the media on anything.

TANTAROS: Oh, you never.

GUTFELD: No, it's true. What we're seeing really is a therapy session -- kind of an intervention for all the media. Remember, they didn't break the IRS story. The story came to them. So, I have no sympathy for them now that they've seen their golden hero fall apart.

I will say this, Obama -- President Obama is a genius. He said that he wanted to end hyper-partisanship. He did, through his detached corruption, these united factions as desperate as the Tea Party and the left wing media are now uniting and they're saying, this guy's an incompetent boob.

When he said when he was talking about Benghazi, and he said there was no there there, that now actually applies to him.

(LAUGHTER)

TANTAROS: Dana?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Well, the headline that you held up, it says "IRS targeted liberals -- there's not enough room to say the Obama IRS targeted liberals. But they've been governing inside a moon bounce for the last five years. And they were so protected from everything.

But I got to tell you something, I think the media dropped the ball on this. But don't be fooled. By next week, they're all be coming back around and trying to help and say, oh, how responsible, they called for a commission and everything's going to be fine. And you know what? There was no there there. I guarantee it, by Tuesday.

TANTAROS: It is a little bizarre to see Paul Begala say the Tea Party was right. And I'm wondering, Bob, if you're going to see a split. I mean, Dana says the media will come back around. You also see Democrats who worked for Clinton start to focus off Benghazi and get onto these other scandals.

Do you think that in a political -- from a political perspective, the Clinton people are saying, let's get off Benghazi, this is great, let's talk about IRS and shift off her because she's going to be running?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: I think there's something to that. I mean, if I were -- if I were in that group, I'd probably try to do that.

I want to say two things, Greg said that Obama was genius and then went on to say pejoratively whatever it was. But what Dana said is important here. He is very good at coming out of these things.

I would not count him out. I think this guy is a fantastic communicator. He hasn't communicated what he needs to communicate.

But here's a couple of things to say: on Benghazi, I think it is getting -- I understand four people died. I don't think it's a big scandal there. On "The A.P." -- "The A.P." ought to be brought in front of the Justice Department for breaking the Espionage Act for leaking that information. And whoever in the administration gave it to them ought to be arrested as well.

And I think on the IRS, that's the easy one. That is just terrible, horrible, ridiculous scandal and it should be dealt with.

But I think the other two, when you keep saying these are all scandals, I -- "The A.P." thing is not anywhere near a scandal for me.

GUTFELD: Well --

PERINO: Since we have time, can I ask you, though, why do you think he's such a fantastic communicator?

Let me give you a few examples. On the Benghazi piece, because they weren't transparent at the beginning, they have dealt with a nine-month- long process and now, the media's giving birth to the story. On the second one, on the IRS piece, so no one told the president until Friday that this was happening even though Jay Carney says the White House was notified two weeks ago.

And then the president put out a very strong statement but only after the media coverage five days later. His statement is very strong.

I -- just because he can say a sentence well, I don't think that makes him a great communicator. I think they've actually proven to be very bad at the --

BECKEL: Well, maybe from the standpoint of managing the government.

But in terms of a campaign, this guy came from behind and won reelection in a year that he never should have done it. If he hadn't been such a good candidate, the fact that the Republicans had such a bad candidate, he should not have been reelected by every historical mark we've ever seen.

He should have been beaten.

GUTFELD: Can I make a point, too -- you brought up the Tea Party.

The Tea Party did something that was fairly brave and mocked. They spoke truth to power. I mean, one of the most powerful, likable presidents in the country and they spoke truth to him.

This is the fantasy of every left wing group, to be the target of the IRS or to be the target of the government because it's incredibly romantic.

Occupy Wall Street would have loved for this to happen. This is what they make movies out of. In a weird way, the Tea Party is the modern Black Panthers.

So, maybe the media should have listened. Maybe the media should be apologizing to the Tea Party. Maybe Robert Redford should make a movie about the Tea Party because they truly are the revolutionaries. They're the ones you spoke to with the power and they got persecuted. That's the --

TANTAROS: Right.

PERINO: That's the goal.

GUTFELD: That's the goal.

TANTAROS: You said that he is a good campaigner but -- and a good communicator. But the reason he was such a good communicator is everything that he said, the media ran with. I mean, they printed every story. They didn't print select stories and they carried his water so it was easy for him to be a good campaigner.

And think about this, he was such a good campaigner, he wasn't doing his job. And that's the crux of every single one of these scandals.

BECKEL: You're indicting the entire media now. Do you include "The Wall Street Journal" on that?

TANTAROS: OK. There are some reporters I will say that have done excellent work, some at CBS, some at "The Wall Street Journal", some at other news outlets. Absolutely.

But the bulk of the media, Bob, bought into this entire thing. They didn't report that he wasn't tested, that he didn't have experience.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: It took two or three years to them -- they all bought into the war in Iraq, too, and then they backed off after three years. It's -- you know, they buy into things. This media is not exactly what you call independently minded.

BOLLING: And we're buying into it right now because the real story here is the Benghazi terror attacks --

BECKEL: Why --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: Because it's the real -- because four Americans were dead and there were a lot of questions that still need answering.

BECKEL: True.

BOLLING: Who called for the stand-down order? Who pushed -- who actually changed the talking points? And why -- both those questions need to be answered.

This "A.P." stuff, you're right, it's all smoke in mirrors right now.

They've got him covered. In "The A.P." stuff, Carney says, President Obama, and he himself said he didn't know until he heard about it via news outlets.

The IRS story, same thing -- it's an isolated case. A couple of low- level IRS agents in Cincinnati, maybe only two --

PERINO: That's impossible.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: It runs directly to the IRS in Washington, D.C.

BOLLING: Of course it does. But the point is they've got President Obama shielded on those two but they don't have him shielded on Benghazi.

GUTFELD: I'll tell you what, though? If I were Rush Limbaugh, after seeing Jon Stewart, I would buy a lottery ticket today.

BECKEL: Why --

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: Speaking of Jon Stewart --

GUTFELD: Because --

TANTAROS: We have to get this sound in, hold on.

GUTFELD: Because this is his lucky day and so, he should enjoy it.

TANTAROS: It is. It's not President Obama's. And questions are being asked, what about his responsibility?

Well, remember this flashback -- President Obama said the buck stops with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

OBAMA: When you're president, you've got to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Ultimately, the buck stops with me.

As president, I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

TANTAROS: But look at how he and his advisers have explained this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: First of all, the CIA was the agency that made changes to the edits -- I mean, to the talking points.

OBAMA: The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.

CARNEY: I would refer to the IRS. I don't have information about that.

We have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of "The Associated Press."

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Part of being president is there's so much underneath you that you can't know because the government's so vast.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

TANTAROS: Carney said it was a sideshow, Dana. It looks like a three-ring circus and President Obama's the ringleader.

GUTFELD: And Eric Holder is the bearded lady.

PERINO: And -- you could keep going all day.

GUTFELD: I know.

PERINO: When he says the buck stops here -- true. But they make sure the buck never gets there because they never tell him anything. And so, then, he can apparently say, I don't know, I don't know.

BOLLING: See, I disagree. I honestly think he's calling the shots but they've got that ring -- no, Holder decided -- oh, wait a minute. Holder, I'm recusing myself because of my deputy, because I testified. So, it's my deputy attorney general -- they have so many layers --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: Wait, wait, when the flak comes back, they say, President Obama didn't know about it.

Meanwhile, there's no way in the world when all this stuff is breaking in Benghazi or breaking with the IRS or breaking with the "A.P.", that somebody doesn't say, hey, Mr. President, this is big and you want to know about it.

BECKEL: The fact of the matter is, the buck is stopping there. He's now put on point. They're not putting other people on point. The point is now the president of the United States, he does have to have the buck stop where it is, on his desk, and he has to answer these things.

It's as simple as that. He will.

PERINO: I think we have a bigger problem if we could look beyond just the 24-hour news cycle and a longer-term legacy. And that is governing, whether you're Republican or Democrat, you don't want to be the president who, like Nixon, basically just destroyed, nosedived people's trust in government and it took years and decades and different parties and lots of people working on it, to try to build that back. It's been going down over the last 10 to 12 years.

But this is -- because of these scandals all happening at the same time, it is a collapse of confidence in government that is so large that if they don't do something quite dramatic and independent and show that the Tea Party and whoever else, the liberal groups, anybody else who thinks it is wrong what the IRS did, that they will have fallen short and will not have served President Obama well in history.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: History tells us, it's amazing the number of presidents who get in this kind of trouble. Whether it was Nixon -- whether it was Reagan -- Nixon on Watergate, Reagan on Iran-Contra --

TANTAROIS: He promised, his number one promise was to restore the trust in government. And, Greg --

BECKEL: Every president says that.

TANTAROS: No, they have not raised the bar as high as President Obama did. I mean, his expectations were so high.

And, Greg, doesn't it value the criticism -- I mean, President Obama would golf too much, he campaigned too much, he wasn't focused, he was playing basketball, hobnobbing with celebrities. Doesn't this prove the point that the criticism was valid, that he wasn't focused on the job or just didn't care?

GUTFELD: It reminds me of a guy in college I knew who we rented a Winnebago to go down to a game at USC and he put it on cruise control and then came back and sat down because he didn't understand what cruise control was.

You cannot detach yourself from the steering wheel. And that's what happened. President Obama stepped away because he was so cool and so detached he thought he could. But if you look at IRS and you look at Benghazi, they have one thing in common -- they happened prior to an election.

Basically Obama drove those dogs out into the woods and left them there and there was dogs came back --

BECKEL: So did Watergate and so did Iran Contra. It didn't come out until afterwards. And, by the way, are you comparing his problems with Watergate and Iran-Contra?

GUTFELD: A lot of people are.

(CROSSTALK)

PERINO: Brian Williams did.

TANTAROS: I think this is far worse.

BECKEL: I think Williams is full --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: How many died in Watergate?

TANTAROS: Nobody died in Watergate.

And the sweeping -- hold on, I want to address yesterday because you and I got an argument in this over, on Watergate. You said, when I said, could you imagine if Nixon would have done this, flouting and ignoring, Bob, every possible protocol that the Department of Justice set for itself to spy. Those are not my words, they're the words of The New York Times, and subpoena over 100 reporters' phones at, let's say, The Washington Post. Nixon did not do that. He didn't do close to that level.

BECKEL: He fired his independent prosecutor because he didn't like the fact that he was going over his tapes. You don't think that's a problem?

BOLLING: It's like when Hillary hired the ambassador and the admiral to do her ARB --

BECKEL: You've got this right. This is about Hillary. Benghazi is about Hillary in 2016, period.

TANTAROS: Guys, we have a FOX News alert. This is breaking news here.

All right. The White House has just released over 100 pages of e- mails on Benghazi. This just breaking, of course. This is something that --

PERINO: That's the C-block.

BOLLING: No.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: Steven Hayes has called for and a number of others. It's the subject of an editorial. But he's been pushing to release the e-mails.

It's also something that David Axelrod said this morning that they should do. And it looks like they have done it.

BECKEL: And Steven Hayes said he'd released the transcripts and he didn't.

Content and Programming Copyright 2013 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.