Alter: Carney and Holder’s Briefings ‘Were Disastrous’

‘Reminded me of the '50s when kids would get under their desks in the Cold War for duck and cover exercises.’


On Tuesday’s Hardball, Jonathan Alter described the Obama administrations day as ‘disastrous’ and faulted the presidents staff for having an ‘unhealthy love for him.’

CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you were this president, I think, is facing some historic notes in his biography. He may not want to see. Like IRS, FBI, even Benghazi. Although it’s unclear right next to it. How does he get through this thing? He’s up to his elbow in alligators.

JONATHAN ALTER: He has to get on top of this story. You know, today was disastrous. I thought that Eric Holder’s briefing was disastrous. He tried to claim that they had exhausted all other avenues before they surveilled 100 “AP” reporters which is completely untrue. They didn’t even tell the reporters that this surveillance was going on. So that was one avenue they didn’t exhaust. And I thought Jay Carney’s briefing was also disastrous. It was kind of like, reminded me of in the ’50s when kids would get under their desks in the cold war, duck and cover exercises.


ALTER: It was duck and cover today in Washington. So he needs some new political help inside the White House. He doesn’t trust people very much. Unless he’s comfortable with them over many years. He has to get over that, bring in some new high quality political help. Not to work the political angles, but to help him get on top of this to save his presidency, otherwise it’s going to be a long, hot summer of scandal.

MATTHEWS: Jon, you got to the heart of it. Sometimes your best advisers are people who are not invested in you.

ALTER: Right.

MATTHEWS: That’s the hardest thing. You bring in a Gergen to help Clinton. You bring in Howard baker to help Reagan. Sometimes the best advisers are not sycophants. They don’t depend on you for emotional response. They’re willing to come in and say, I’m here for six months. I’m here to clean up. I can help you. I’m a pro. But sometimes a professional or an elected president says, wait a minute, I got elected to this job, not you. I’m the boss. You know, it’s hard to get the boss to come down from his high lads ladder and say, I need some help.

ALTER: He in some ways infantilizes the people around him. a lot of them are young. Some of them are very smart and talented. But they’re all in awe of the president. They have an unhealthy love for him. Yes, they do sometimes tell him the bad news which he says he wants. They’re not all sycophants. He has not figured out how to get other people in.