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CBS's Rose Lets Axelrod Forward White House Denial on National Security Leaks

Charlie Rose deferred to Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Monday's CBS This Morning regarding the controversy over several recent national security leaks. Axelrod repeatedly denied that the leaks came from the administration. Rose didn't challenge his guest's talking point, even though during a May 2012 interview with the anchor former Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated that White House officials went "out in public with operational details" of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Despite knowing about Gates's disclosure, Rose claimed that President Obama "seems to be upset about the spy leaks," and asked the Democratic campaign official whether the leaks came from the "national security apparatus at the White House."

Rose brought up the leak issue midway though his interview of Axelrod, which began seven minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour. After making his "upset" line about Obama, the CBS journalist asked, "Where did they come from, and who should be doing the investigating?" When his guest replied that he didn't know their origin, Rose interjected, "Was it in the White House?"

Axelrod continued in full denial mode, citing his experience as the former senior adviser to the President:

AXELROD: Absolutely not. We did not -- you know, let me just say, I sat with the President for two years. I watched him make these excruciating decisions - life and death decisions - committing Americans to dangerous missions to protect the American people. The last thing that he would want; the last thing anyone in the White House wants, is to do anything that would jeopardize those missions or jeopardize those Americans. So he's as outraged about it as anybody, and, as you well know, we've been attacked for being too hard on leaks, for going after leakers too hard. This administration has been tougher on that than anyone. So this is, you know, a bit of folderol of the election season.

The anchor let this boast go unanswered, and followed up by simply rephrasing his previous question: "But you don't think it came from the national security apparatus at the White House?" The Obama campaign aide replied, "No, absolutely not -- but, you know, we're as interested as anybody to see."

Earlier, Rose started the Axelrod interview with a softball question on the President's eyebrow-raising line on Friday that the "private sector is doing fine":

ROSE: So just tell us one more time on the private sector- (laughs)

AXELROD: Oh, that again, huh?

ROSE: What did the President mean to say?

AXELROD: Look, what the President meant to say was that since this -- in the last 27 months, we’ve created 4.3 million private sector jobs - not enough, but far different than the 800,000 a month we were losing when he became president-

ROSE: So why didn't he say we created more jobs, but that's not enough, rather than saying the private sector's doing fine?

AXELROD: Charlie, he called a press conference to say -- to suggest urgent actions that we should take to undergird the economy against the clouds that are rolling in from Europe. He's said repeatedly we need to do more to accelerate job creation. So I don't think there's -- in the minds of most Americans, there's no confusion about this.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.