Geithner Book: White House Asked Me to Mislead TV Viewers

Image: Geithner Book: White House Asked Me to Mislead TV Viewers

Monday, 12 May 2014 07:02 PM

By Greg Richter

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Members of President Barack Obama's political staff asked former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to mislead viewers during an appearance on Sunday morning talk shows, he says in a new book.

In his memoir "Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises," to be released Tuesday, Geithner says he was asked to say that Social Security spending does not contribute to the nation's deficit. Geithner says he balked at the suggestion because he doesn't believe that, the Daily Mail reports.

"I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when [Senior Adviser to the President for Strategy and Communications] Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn't contribute to the deficit. It wasn't a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute," Geithner writes.

"Pfeiffer said the line was a 'dog whistle' to the left, a phrase I had never heard before. He had to explain that the phrase was code to the Democratic base, signaling that we intended to protect Social Security."

Fox News' Brit Hume tied Geithner's claim to the Benghazi controversy.

"You don't go on a Sunday show unless the White House sends you on the Sunday show. And you don't go on the Sunday show without knowing full well what the White House wants you to say and how it wants you to say it," Hume said Monday on Fox News Channel's "Special Report."

Geithner's claims are relevant to Benghazi because the White House says that then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's blaming of an anti-Muslim video reflected only what the CIA was telling her.

"I think we're now beginning to get a sense that the White House had a lot to say about what she said, a lot of which turned out to be false," Hume said.

In the daily White House briefing on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney denied the claim, saying he would likely have been in the room and that Geithner would have been asked only to stress that Social Security is not the main cause of the deficit.

After controversy over the statement erupted on Monday, Geithner seemed to backtrack. Fox News quoted a source close to him as saying the former secretary "does not believe he was encouraged to go out and mislead the public."

Fox News did not say whether there was any elaboration on that statement.


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