Nightly News   |  May 15, 2013

IRS challenges public's confidence in government

NBC’s Chuck Todd examines the White House’s attempt to take control of the IRS controversy, saying if the public thinks the government has lost control on the IRS front, then the Obama administration will have more difficulty in implementing new policies.

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

>>> good evening. this has been a day of attempted damage control at the white house . as the obama administration is now facing a rare confluence of problems right now. a very imperfect storm of three big problems all at the same time. you've got the federal government going after reporters' phone records, the irs targeting certain people and groups because of their conservative politics , and there is always what went on during and after the attack on our consulate in benghazi in libya on september 11th of this past year. in the way only the white house can try to do to move the news agenda with the release of information , release they did. earlier today a slew of e-mails on one of these topics from the height of the benghazi drama while the president emerged late today to take on one of the other troubles -- this one involving the irs . for his part he announced the departure of the boss, the acting irs commissioner . here's part of the president's remarks in the east room just minutes ago.

>> the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. it's inexcusable and americans are right to be angry about it and i am angry about it. i will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the irs given the power that it has and the reach that it has in all of our lives. as i said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is that the irs has to operate with absolute integrity.

>> again, that was at 6:20 eastern time earlier tonight, an uncommon time to come on the air with a special report , remarks from the president. then again they don't usually have this confluence of problems. on two of their three problems they acted today and our team has been looking into all three. we'll hear from all of them here tonight. we are happy to have our political director, chief white house correspondent chuck todd here with us in our new york studios for this day. so on the irs because they saw this one could cut through and perhaps be most damaging they presented the president.

>> that's right. that's why it's the one topic he spoke on today. didn't talk about the benghazi e-mails. they think that's a partisan fight, already been litigated politically and it's a fight with house republicans. on going after the press, they know the media isn't very popular with the public. they know they have a problem with the media, but it was the irs schedule. this is a president who wants to implement a health care law , pass immigration reform . if you lose the confidence of the public that the irs can't do its job properly it's going to be easy for republicans to say, if the government can't get the irs right how do you think they will get your health care right? they can't get the irs right, how are they going to protect the border? this is something they are nervous about. that's why you saw a publically angry president. you will see them try to find a big figure to replace to become the new irs commissioner . maybe it's a republican. maybe it's a top cop kind of guy, a military guy. they know they need to fix the credibility. that one could sting.