Carney had a point there. Nixon was a control freak. Obama seems to be the opposite: He wants no control over the actions of his administration. As the president distances himself from the actions of “independent” figures within his administration, he’s creating a power vacuum in which lower officials behave as though anything goes. Certainly, a president can’t know what everybody in his administration is up to — but he can take responsibility, he can fire people and he can call a stop to foolish actions such as wholesale snooping into reporters’ phone calls.

At the start of Tuesday’s briefing, the AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn pointed out that in all the controversies of the moment — the Benghazi “talking points,” the IRS targeting and the journalists’ phone records — “you have placed the burden of responsibility someplace else. . . . But it is the president’s administration.”

President Passerby, however, was not joining the fray. Carney repeated Obama’s assertion that the IRS’s actions would be outrageous only “if” they are true. Never mind that the IRS has already admitted the violations and apologized.