Bumps along the way
“Smiling Dan,” as his White House colleagues ironically call him, made a fitting face for an administration under siege on the Sunday morning shows on May 19.His big premiere hit bottom when Bob Schieffer of CBS News questioned his gravitas, saying, “I mean, this is no disrespect to you, why are you here today?” Afterward, Pfeiffer joked with a CBS producer that he “was happy to do four shows.”
Pfeiffer met friends that afternoon for brunch at Commissary in the Logan Circle area, where he is moving. The next morning, Obama congratulated Pfeiffer on his “heroic effort” for doing all the shows, Palmieri said. But, as Pfeiffer maybe could have foreseen, there was more to come.
That morning, White House press secretary Jay Carney revealed that a slew of senior officials knew earlier than previously reported about the allegations of inappropriate IRS targeting, exactly the sort of thing Pfeiffer might have mentioned on national television. Critics talked about the administration’s naivete and wondered about the extent to which Pfeiffer was in the loop.
“It’s not like Dan went out there Sunday knowing probably every piece of news that Jay had,” Plouffe explained. White House officials first played down Pfeiffer’s knowledge of the disclosures, saying he was aware of the general outlines but not briefed with bullet points. They then embraced a different talking point, one Pfeiffer returned to several times during the interview in the White House.
“Here’s the funny thing about that,” Pfeiffer said of his not getting it all out and getting it all out fast. “The bulk of what Jay was going to say, I was prepared to answer, I just never got asked.” As each anchor neglected to ask whether he and other senior staff were aware of the report, he said, he thought, “I could try to jam it in.” But ultimately, he said, he decided “it’s not a top-tier issue in terms of communication imperatives on that day.”
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