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Schieffer: Obama’s Communication Strategy ‘Hurting His Credibility’

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Longtime CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer took President Barack Obama to task for how his administration has handled recent scandals.

On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Schieffer believes Obama needs to review his communication strategy.

“The president needs to rethink his entire communications policy, top to bottom,” Schieffer said. “It is hurting his credibility and shortchanging the public.”

Schieffer was commenting on the recent scandals involving the Benghazi terror attack and the Justice Department seizing phone records of The Associated Press without their knowledge.

“If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that’s what we — and you, the taxpayer — get. And it usually isn’t much,” Schieffer said.

The “Face the Nation” host questioned why Obama is having Attorney General Eric Holder review his investigation into the AP and not an independent party.

“And to head the review, how about someone other than the Attorney General, whose department is so deeply involved? That makes no sense to me,” Schieffer said.

In recent weeks, the administration has acknowledged secretly seizing portions of two months of phone records from the AP. The AP received no advance warning. The seizure was part of an investigation into who leaked information to AP reporters for a May 7, 2012, story that disclosed details of a foiled plot in Yemen to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner, around the anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The government also read the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a separate investigation about the publication of government secrets. Rosen’s emails were seized, with a judge’s approval, as part of the prosecution of Stephen Kim, a State Department adviser who is accused of leaking secret information about North Korea.

Under intense pressure last week, Obama said the Justice Department would review the policy under which it obtains journalists’ records in investigating leaks of government secrets.

The president said the government has to strike the right balance between security and an open society. He said Holder will meet with representatives of media organizations and report back to him by July 12.

On the question of phone records, the Justice Department is guided by policy that first was written 40 years ago after the excesses of the Watergate era. Investigators are not supposed to consider a subpoena for journalists’ phone records unless “all reasonable attempts” have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say.

News organizations are supposed to get advance warning so that they can fight the subpoena in court, unless the notification could compromise an investigation.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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