The IRS’s Media Firewall

Robert Knight

5/13/2014 12:01:00 AM - Robert Knight

After the full House of Representatives cited former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois G. Lerner for contempt of Congress on Wednesday, the Washington Times fittingly made it the lead story.

Over at the Washington Post, however, print readers had to go 19 pages deep to “The Fed Page,” a union-style newsletter for federal employees. If the Post had buried the story any deeper, it would have been wedged into the classifieds or crumpled up in a backyard mulch barrel.

Here’s how the New York Times handled the story:

“The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to hold Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official accused by Republicans of abusing power, in contempt, laying bare the bitter divide over which much of the midterm elections will be fought.”

When Republicans do something, it’s political. When Democrats do something, it’s to save the planet.

The paper noted that the House was to vote Thursday to create a select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and allegations of a cover-up. Again, the spin:

“Republicans have raised a delicate set of questions and opened themselves up to accusations that they are politicizing a tragedy that cost four Americans their lives and misusing congressional oversight authority for gain in an election year.”

Hear that? It wasn’t the people who got four Americans killed or who covered their own butts with brazen lies for the last two years who are on the hot seat. It’s the ones trying to get to the truth.

The New York Times authors buttressed the IRS portion of their scenario with a quote from Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, who you can easily picture making an eloquent case that cigarettes are good for you:

“Today’s vote has nothing to do with the facts or the law. Its only purpose is to keep the baseless I.R.S. ‘conspiracy’ alive through the midterm elections.”

Baseless? Well, lawyers are paid to say such things, but journalists are paid to report as objectively as possible – in theory. Which is why we need to ask media outlets why they ignored the other big story on the front page of the Washington Times: “GOP finds 10% of tea party donors audited.”

“Twenty-four conservative groups were asked for their donor lists,” explains reporter Stephen Dinan. “The IRS initially told Congress that those lists were destroyed, but when they went through their files, they discovered three lists that weren’t destroyed.”

And what did IRS officials do with those donor lists? They subjected one in 10 donors to audits, “substantially higher than the average rate of 1 percent of average Americans who are audited each year.” Can you imagine the media coverage if union members were singled out at a 10 to 1 rate? Maybe the story is somewhere in the Post’s mulch pile.

The new information arose during a House hearing at which IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was told about the lists. So it was quite public.

Getting back to New York, the Gotham paper did quote House Speaker John A. Boehner, who said of the Benghazi select committee, “This is not going to be a circus.”

Democrats responded with mockery. “It is a circus,” said Rep. Jackie Speier of California. “Psychologists will tell you that when somebody says something is not, it clearly is.”

Well, you have to believe the psychologists. If so, the liberals’ insistence that neither Benghazi nor the IRS scandals are real scandals must make them … scandals.

Faced with a tide of unwelcome revelations, some liberals are donning ill-fitting fiscal conservative costumes. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, was horrified that the IRS has spent $14 million of taxpayer money on requests for documents. That would be chump change for President Obama’s golfing trip planners.

Mr. Cummings is one of the prime spreaders of the whopper that the IRS equally targeted liberals. And it’s worked. According to a new Media Research Center paper, “The Burying of a Scandal”:

“After a partisan report last June absurdly suggested that progressive groups were just as likely to be scrutinized as conservative ones, ABC, CBS and NBC essentially abandoned their coverage of the IRS targeting scandal which broke one year ago this week,” writes Rich Noyes.

With the notable exceptions of Nancy Cordes on CBS’s Evening News, and Norah O’Donnell on CBS This Morning, “the reality is that after this report, the broadcast networks essentially stopped covering the IRS scandal, as if all reasonable observers now agreed it was over.”

A 141-page staff report released on April 7 by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee clearly shows that the IRS had knives out only for conservatives: “For 15 months beginning in February 2010, the IRS systematically identified, separated, and delayed Tea Party applications — and only Tea Party applications.”

But, as President Obama said as late as February, and liberal spokesmen still insist today, there’s “not even a smidgeon of corruption,” just “bone-headed” decisions made in a “local office” of the IRS. Hey, if the psychologists are right….

It’s enough to make you paw through the mulch to see what else they’re hiding.