Believe it or not, there are actually drawbacks to having a ginormous phone that doubles as a portable home theater system, aside from the unrelenting ball-breaking. One such drawback became apparent at Monday’s White House daily briefing, as ABC News White House Correspondent Jon Karl’s interrogation of Press Secretary Jay Carney was interrupted by the extremely loud first several measures of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five‘s “Scorpio.”
“Tommy, is that you?” Carney asked. “Whose awesome ringtone is that?”
Yes, it was me, and as I tried to explain to Carney, I not only had my ringer muted, but I was taping the briefing on the phone, so there’s no reason it should have done that. As it turns out, I had muted the ringer, but not the alarm that I have set to go off every day right before my kids get home from school. You can’t really tell from the video, because the shotgun mic wasn’t pointed at me, but it was really effing loud.
Real White House briefing junkies will recall that, several years ago, Robert Gibbs actually confiscated Human Events correspondent John Gizzi’s phone after it went off twice during a briefing, so I got off pretty easy. Jay, if you’re reading this, “Scorpio” is available on iTunes. I should also add that it is pure coincidence that Karl’s question was interrupted by a song whose next line is “show no shame.”
Karl was trying to nail Carney down on whether the White House would “cooperate fully” with John Boehner’s select committee on #Benghazi, after a series of other reporters got the same answer. Carney repeatedly said that the White House would cooperate with “legitimate oversight,” which led reporters to ask whether the White House would consider the select committee “legitimate oversight.”
He told AURN’s April Ryan that “I would point you to the fact that we have always cooperated with legitimate oversight and will continue to do so. And we have cooperated extensively with the oversight on this matter — which I think a lot of folks, including Republicans, have identified as not always legitimate, but highly political.”
The upshot of this sort of questioning is that the White House reserves the right not to cooperate if they don’t like the questions they’re being asked, which, to be fair, was also the liberal narrative when Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) gave a similar response about the Bridgegate investigations. The problem with that, and the difficulty in Jay Carney’s ability to answer more clearly, is that these reporters (in both cases) fail to make a distinction between substantive legitimacy, and legitimacy of authority and scope.
For example, if Congress wants to subpoena President Obama’s dental records, that is outside the scope and authority of legitimate oversight. If they want to subpoena emails about emails about Benghazi, that may be substantively illegitimate, but within the scope and authority of the committee. Carney isn’t about to confer legitimacy, in either sense, to what has clearly been a substantively illegitimate and empty enterprise. If they take another run at this today, someone should frame the question solely as a matter of the committee’s authority and scope.