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NBC Touts Obama 'Trying to Move Past' Scandals, Believing It's 'Just a Blip'

On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer described how President Obama was "trying to move past" the scandals plaguing his administration. In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd began by parroting the President's attempts to downplay the political firestorm: "Aides say the President's keeping things in perspective and believes this is just a blip, he'll bounce back." [Listen to the audio]

After playing clips of Obama's Thursday news conference, including Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asking about comparisons to Nixon, Todd promoted more White House spin: "In the end, aides say Mr. Obama does not feel under siege this week. The New York Times reporting the President has 'talked longingly of going Bulworth,' referencing the movie featuring Warren Beatty as a senator who suddenly decides to speak his mind whatever the political cost."

After the taped report, Todd told Lauer:

And aides tell me that in meetings this week about how to handle these bubbling controversies, the President has deflected the idea that it's been a bad week, Matt. He said, "You know what a bad week was? A bad week was when there was oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, a bad week was when four Americans were killed in Benghazi. This isn't a bad week."

Following Todd's report, Lauer brought on MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, who promptly dismissed Obama's posturing: "Well, first of all, it has been a bad week politically for the President, despite what he said yesterday."

Lauer wondered: "The President spoke out at that press conference pretty forcefully on Thursday. Did he do and say what he needed to do to stop the bleeding a little bit?" Scarborough replied: "He certainly, at the very least, sent a message to Democrats and his supporters that he was going to push back, he was going to fight back. This president has been far too passive."

Scarborough then relayed an important detail missing from Todd's reporting: "And breaking news last night that the person that was in charge of the tax exempt area in the IRS is now running ObamaCare. So it looks like they may have actually fired the wrong person at the IRS and the person responsible may have gotten a promotion."

Wrapping up the exchange, Lauer asked about the fate of the Attorney General amid the Associated Press phone records scandal: "During the press conference yesterday the President spoke out and supported Eric Holder....Is Holder's job safe, in your opinion?" Scarborough declared: "It certainly is. I mean, the President will stay with Eric Holder until the very end."

Here is a full transcript of Todd's May 17 report:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Developing now. Lawmakers set to grill the ousted head of the IRS today as the scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups claims the job of another top agency official.

7:01AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Today's hearing before a House committee is the first dedicated to the IRS scandal and the agency's outgoing director is expected to get a grilling from Republicans today.

LAUER: That scandal just one of the political controversies facing the Obama administration right now, but this morning the President's trying to move past them. He's speaking out about the economy.

GUTHRIE: Let's get right to the White House, NBC's Chuck Todd is there. Chuck, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Storm Over IRS Scandal; Obama Deflects Nixon Comparisons]

CHUCK TODD: Well, good morning, Savannah. It's still damage control mode for the White House, but they're trying to stay in front of these three controversies that have basically hit the pause button on the President's agenda. But aides say the President's keeping things in perspective and believes this is just a blip, he'll bounce back.

Just how rough has this week been for the President? Consider this question from a reporter Thursday.

JEFF MASON [REUTERS]: How do you feel about comparisons by some of your critics of this week's scandals to those that happened under the Nixon administration?

BARACK OBAMA: Well, yeah, I'll let you guys engage in those comparisons.

TODD: Nixon comparisons aside, during a rainy news conference Mr. Obama promised to clean up the IRS following its targeting of conservative groups. And the IRS announced the retirement of the official who oversaw the division responsible for that targeting. The White House also announced a new acting IRS commissioner, Daniel Wuerfel, a veteran civil servant in the Office of Management and Budget.

OBAMA: We're also going to make sure that we gather up the facts and hold accountable and responsible anybody who was involved in this.

TODD: On Capitol Hill today, ousted IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller is likely to face tough questions from members of Congress. Mr. Obama also addressed the Justice Department's decision to subpoena Associated Press phone records. Saying while he respects freedom of press, national security was at stake.

OBAMA: I don't the American people would expect me as commander in chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.

TODD: On Benghazi, the President tried to move past the talking points controversy.

OBAMA: I've directed the Defense Department to ensure that our military can respond lightning quick in times of crisis.

TODD: In the end, aides say Mr. Obama does not feel under siege this week. The New York Times reporting the President has "talked longingly of 'going Bulworth,'" referencing the movie featuring Warren Beatty as a senator who suddenly decides to speak his mind whatever the political cost.

And aides tell me that in meetings this week about how to handle these bubbling controversies, the President has deflected the idea that it's been a bad week, Matt. He said, "You know what a bad week was? A bad week was when there was oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, a bad week was when four Americans were killed in Benghazi. This isn't a bad week."

LAUER: Alright, Chuck Todd at the White House. Chuck, thank you very much.