All In   |  May 16, 2013

The real wrongdoing in our week of scandals

Chris Hayes says that the most disturbing scandal of the past week is the one that got the least attention: the DOJ’s acquisition of AP phone records. He discusses that and the IRS fiasco with Salon’s Joan Walsh, Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, and Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i'm here with joan walsh of salon, and harold fineman of the washington post . we're taking stock of scandal gate here and scandal management. i want to go from what i think is the least serious to the most serious. then to the goldilocks one that's just right in the middle. the most serious by far to me is the story about the department of justice having secretly subpoenaed the phone records of the associated press for two months, 20 different phone lines, include iing the homes of some reports, carl bernstein calling it outranlous and totally inexcusable. what we know so far is that the eric holder says he recused himself from this as part of the leak investigation about a story that appeared in may of 2012 . eric holder accused himself but the actual conduct here i think is just profoundly chilling and troublesome and shows complete disregard for the department's own guidelines about how they're supposed to go about doing this. joan, you've been on the same page.

>> right. they had other options. they could have and should have gone to ap . this was not a secret investigation where they would be blowing their cover. this was a well known investigation. it was another scandal, the leak scandal, and so they went farther than they had to go. they went more secretly an they are -- this comes in the context of them being incredibly tough on whistle blowers , prosecuting more whistle blowers than all presidencies combined. there is a pattern here. it is troubling that this is the scandal that's getting the least attention.

>> yes, howard, it is getting the least attention which is so fascinating because it has the least partisan legs. ted cruz is like, you got to go after leakers. there is no delightful gains to be made by republicans beating them up over this.

>> right. and i think perhaps the press corps is overthinking it by assuming that people out in the country don't really care that much. it is something involving politicians and the press and who cares. this is one where i think whatever the polls might say and whatever the level of interest among voters out in the country, it's a profound matter and profoundly disturbing. as joan said, they sought too much. they didn't do it in the right way. they insist that they took all reasonable measures which is what the justice department guidelines call for to find the information they wanted before they did what they did. we're taking that at face value. i'm not necessarily ready to take their word for it, number one.

>> they also blew up the reporting ability of the ap . right now if you or someone out there who is a source who knows about, say, a serial sexual predator on an army base , for instance, and you want to blow the whistle on them and you don't want it to be traced back to you, you got to think twice before you're going to call up your local ap reporter.

>> i can't imagine any possible justification for basically loitering on the street corner , so to speak, by getting all the toll records of phone calls from the ap 's main phone lines in the congressional press galleries.

>> the congressional press gallery.

>> it is outrageous.

>> i hope that we're going to -- there -- i mean the deputy attorney, jim cole, is the one who ordered this. i think there should be recriminations for him if it is true it did not go above him. all right. now we turn to the goldilocks -- i was going to grill you on the media matters but you're getting off because of time.

>> too bad.

>> i know. i do want to talk about the irs . it seems to fall in between because the conduct itself at the level we know about it was genuinely bad conduct. wrong. and also threatening in a way that i think is really profound. i disagree with my colleague lawrence o'donnell who does not take that view. tune in at 10:00 p.m . tonight to hear it. but it also seems so far as we know so far, genuinely a product of the bureaucracy from below eric.

>> if you talk about this urge for scandal coverage in washington, i was watching another news channel and the on-air kron, who's going to jail. is what fox and the right wing is pushing nixonian action. if you go to the nixon archives and talk to the attorney general and he told them to send immigration and irs after the otis chandler 's family who owned the l." l.a. times " because he hated the " l.a. times ." this is nothing compared to that no matter what the right wing media wants to talk about.

>> one of the things we're seeing here, the opposite of nixonian, is a real kind of arms-length relationship between the department of justice and the white house and the white house and the irs .

>> that's appropriate. which is the way it is supposed to work.

>> quickly, howard.

>> i'll just say, let's see what the rest of the story is if there is a rest of the story. i'm withholding judgment on this goldilocks one.

>> i think you are right. i think there is more questions to be answered as well about how exactly far up this went. but so far my judgment from what we've seen so far is that this was a product of the bureaucracy, not a top-down order to go after conservatives. that's all in for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now on the button.

>> well done! we should start doing like the bbc where you hit chime at the top of the hour. set your watch. look, now i plu it.