How the Media Outrageously Blew the IRS Scandal

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This piece was first published on Salon.

Tea party activists attend a rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. The IRS has been under fire from Democrats and Republicans in Congress since May, when one of its officials publicly apologized for targeting conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status for close examination. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Tea party activists attend a rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. The IRS has been under fire from Democrats and Republicans in Congress since May, when one of its officials publicly apologized for targeting conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status for close examination. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The first few days of the IRS scandal that would consume Washington for weeks went like this: Conservatives were indignant, the media was outraged, the president had to respond, his allies turned on him … and only then, the Treasury Department’s inspector general released the actual report that had sparked the whole controversy — in that order. It’s a fitting microcosm of the entire saga, which has gone from legacy-tarnishing catastrophe to historical footnote in the intervening six weeks, and a textbook example of how the scandal narrative can dominate Washington and cable news even when there is no actual scandal.

While the initial reports about the IRS targeting looked pretty bad, suggesting that agents singled out tax-exempt applications for Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny, the media badly bungled the controversy when supposedly sober journalists like Bob Woodward and Chuck Todd jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst from day one. Instead of doing more reporting to discover the true nature and context of the IRS targeting, or at least waiting for their colleagues to do some, the supposedly liberal mainstream press let their eagerness to show they could be just as tough on a Democratic White House as a Republican one get ahead of the facts. We expect politicians to stretch reality to fit a narrative, but the press should be better.

And they would have gotten away with it, too, had their narrative had the benefit of being true. But now, almost two months later, we know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn’t even know about it until shortly before the public did.

In short, the entire scandal narrative was a fiction. But it had real consequences, effectively derailing Obama’s agenda not long after a resounding reelection, costing several people their careers, and distracting and misinforming the public. It’s not that nothing went wrong at the IRS, but that the transgression merited nowhere near the media response it earned. But instead of acknowledging its error or correcting the record, the mainstream political press has simply moved on to the next game. Now that the emperor has been revealed to have no clothes, it’s worth looking back at what went wrong.

The pace at which the scandal went from zero to Watergate was breathtaking, with the narrative of a Nixonian plot to sic the feds on political enemies forming in the immediate hours after the IRS’ initial apology for the targeting on Friday, May 10. On NBC’s “Nightly News” that day, the first words out of White House correspondent Chuck Todd’s mouth were: “It harkens back to a Nixonian-type tactic, if you will, a political tactic here in the White House.”

Coming at the end of a week of renewed media interest in the Benghazi attack — another scandal that was at least two-parts hype to one-part reality — the two scandals reinforced each other and together created a narrative more powerful than either could possibly hope to be on its own. By Sunday morning, the hosts, guests and pundits on the morning political talk shows easily connected the two and soon there was a cloud of scandal hanging over the White House that every serious person on cable news agreed could doom Obama’s entire second term. David Gregory invoked the “second term curse,” George Will read the portion of Richard Nixon’s Articles of Impeachments that focused on the IRS, David Brooks pointed out that “second terms are generally hit with scandal.” Heading into that week, the “compromised second term” narrative was already cemented and would prove impervious to contradicting information for weeks.

Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist who studies the media’s role in creating scandals, wasn’t particularly surprised. “In other circumstances, the first reports might not have immediately turned into a media firestorm, but the context was very favorable for a scandal to develop and so the media largely embraced the targeting story before all the facts were known,” he told Salon.

What’s often important in scandals is not that someone violated ethical norms, but that “a public figure or institution are successfully construed as violating ethical norms,” he wrote in a recent research paper. Scandals are social constructions and how big one gets often has little to do with the actual severity of the ethical transgression in question, and a lot to do with the political and media context.  ”In some cases, it will only take a spark from a relatively flimsy allegation to set off a significant controversy, while other environments will be much less prone to scandalous conflagrations.”

In other words, it takes two to scandal — the opposition party needs the media (Fast and Furious didn’t work because the press mostly ignored it) and the press needs the opposition party’s furor to advance the scandal narrative and provide political cover. Only when both groups’ interests align in favor of scandal do they emerge. There is where the “second term curse” has some reality. The conditions are often ripe for scandal after presidential reelections, when the media is looking for a new story and opposition parties are looking for a new way to respond to their base’s animosity toward the president, now that it can’ t be channeled into an election.

On Monday, May 12, news broke that the Justice Department had obtained phone records on AP reporters while investigating a national security leak and the scandal narrative exploded. The White House decided to get in front of the scandal story overtaking Washington, employing the same wisdom that worked so well for them in the Shirley Sherrod scandal, when the administration fired an obscure Agriculture Department official before even trying to determine if the tape exposing her wrongdoing was accurate (it was not). The Sherrod case was in many ways a distilled version of the IRS one, when initial facts that looked damning were later exonerated, but the damage had already been done in the panic to respond quickly. The president took the rare step of responding personally, calling the alleged targeting of conservative groups “outrageous” — if true, though that latter part seemed to be largely overlooked.

That night, even Jon Stewart was ready to toss the president overboard. By Tuesday morning, Politico declared that Washington had “turned on” Obama and that this was “very bad news for this White House.” On liberal MSNBC, that lapdog of the White House, Andrea Mitchell declared the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups “one of the most outrageous excesses that I’ve seen in all my years in journalism.” Robert Gibbs, enjoying his new role as MSNBC contributor after spending years as Obama’s spokesperson, slammed his former boss’s “exceedingly passive” response to the controversy.

On Wednesday, Obama lost Chris Matthews. “The story that’s going to haunt the Democratic Party is going to be this IRS story,” the liberal lion of MSNBC’s prime time said. Even Bob Woodward, held up as the paragon of American journalism, overhyped the scandal in an appearance on Bill O’Reilly. Still, on “Morning Joe” he stopped short of saying the IRS targeting was Watergate — “yet.”

From there, there was no going back. Instead of waiting for more reporting to determine whether the IRS targeted other kinds of groups too, or to see if the White House was actually involved (it was not), the punditocracy had already made up their minds. And in doing so, they did a disservice to the public. By mid-June, half of the American people erroneously thought the White House ordered the targeting of Tea Party groups, up 10 points from the previous month. Obama’s approval rating dropped 8 points and his agenda stalled.

At no point did anyone seem to pause and say, let’s wait to see what really happened here. Well, almost no one. One day on “Morning Joe” after the National Journal’s Ron Fournier said that it looked like the White House was using the levers of federal power against opponents, Carl Bernstein, who broke the actual Watergate scandal, cautioned, “We have no evidence of that whatsoever.” For that, he got mocked. “How could we, Carl? Of course we don’t have any evidence of that, but that’s why you have investigations. You know that,” Joe Scarborough said derisively.

But eventually,  in the weeks that followed, new facts emerged and the scandal narrative started to fall apart. No one was able to produce evidence that the White House was involved and those involved said it wasn’t; Republicans seemed to be obfuscating; we learned that liberal groups were targeted too. Beginning in late May, Republicans started talking about the scandal less and less. Darrell Issa’s regular appearances on cable news ended. A new conventional wisdom was spreading: GOP overreach.

When Mitch McConnnell stopped trying to prove the White House ordered the targeting and instead insisted that the president had to disprove the allegations, New York’s Jon Chait saw it as a sign that Republicans were giving up on making the scandal stick in reality. It was a “covered retreat,” Chait wrote, “signaling the IRS scandal’s turn into a vague trope that conservatives use with other members of the tribe, the way liberals liked to say ‘Halliburton’ during the Bush years, to signal some dark beliefs they don’t need to back up.” It had moved into Solyndra and Fast and Furious territory.

But the the GOP really lost its media buy-in when Issa refused to release the full transcript of his interviews with IRS agents. Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of Issa’s oversight committee, released the transcripts himself, which revealed that a self-described conservative Republican ordered the targeting. Matthews concluded the scandal was nothing more than people trying to do their jobs and screwing up (something many of us were saying from day one). Todd said Republicans were “overplaying their hand” and that it was “a bureaucratic scandal,” not a political one.

In the beginning, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, “The idea then was to create an atmosphere of scandal, in hopes of getting the press to place each and every new fact about the unfolding stories into that framework, with no sense of balance or perspective about how significant each new piece of information really was. That worked for a time, but GOP scandal overreach really did produce a media backlash of sorts.”

But mostly, the scandal faded into the background and then disappeared without much recognition, let alone accountability for the people who helped create it. As the journalism adage goes, everyone reads the false report and no one reads the correction. ”My objection to the media coverage is that many reporters and commentators were more interested in the Obama scandal narrative than the facts of the case,” Nyhan told  me. “Do I fault the press for this? Yes, but at the same time, it’s the reality of how the media works and is unlikely to change.”

Conservatives get one thing right about the media — many of its members personally lean liberal. But what they get wrong is assuming that this translates to favorable coverage of Democrats. Often it’s the opposite. Sensitive to criticism of bias and eager to prove their independence and objectivity, the mainstream media often seems to overcorrect by showing less mercy to Democratic administrations than they do to Republican ones. Steve Almond, writing for Salon, argued that the IRS scandal was “Whitewater all over again,” referring to the Clinton-era non-scandal scandal. No one cared when the IRS went after liberal groups like the NAACP and even progressive churches under George W. Bush.

And who could imagine the conservative press disowning the Bush White House as quickly as the liberal pundits on MSNBC did. Bill O’Reilly and his gang at Fox will defend their team to the death, no matter how bad things get and how much flip-flopping is needed to get there. In many ways, this is a compliment to liberal pundits for trying to be more intellectually honest than their conservative peers. But trying to show fair-mindedness by imposing a false balance is just a different form of dishonesty.

UPDATE: MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell is distressed that we did not name him as an exception to the media’s poor coverage of this story. Here, then, is an example of where he did get it right (along with some others on the left).


Alex Seitz-WaldAlex Seitz-Wald is Salon’s political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.
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  • Strawman411

    Good article. If it fits the hologram, run with it. The electorate’s memory and attention span are minuscule, so no one pays for prematurely jumping on the bandwagon from which they can later quietly slink away.

    In the meantime, what’s the next new shiny thing on the “news”?

  • Think

    Holy crap. Is this a joke? Are there people alive who will still actually buy the BS printed in this “article”? Oh my.

    The facts are that there are many “tea party” groups or people on the “republican” side who are still waiting for their deserved tax exempt status to go through. And they’ve been waiting for years. FOR YEARS.

    Where are the groups that were labeled “progressive” that are still waiting? Oh wait, there are none. THERE ARE NONE. They were “targeted” only so their applications could go right through without any delay. Yeah, you heard me right.

    When will the day come that liberals are actually ashamed of their blatant hypocrisy?

    The answer is that day will never come.

    For shame.

  • Anonymous

    The media coverage of this was N’Oh Theatre, shrill and formulaic. All gesture and nuance, and nothing else. I kept waiting to hear the damning plot turn, but it kept not happening. The IRS did as they are supposed to do, and the same as they would do if the Tea Party was in power. The press wanted to give the right a new Watergate. I imagine at least one of the news channels probably came up with a musical theme and a logo for the whole brouhaha. Much sneering and eyebrow waggling ensued. Then, nothing. The media should be taken to task for this. Even the NPR reporters’ voices would get all deep and serious and vague when they talked about it. Fie on the lot of them!

  • Diogenes

    If you idiots in the so-called media had stopped looking for “scandals” and paid attention to what Lawrence O’Donnell kept saying, you might have learned something. In all my 82 years I have never seen such sorry “reporting”. We are now a nation of gossips and you have played a huge part in making us so. If Mr. O’Donnell is distressed, you should talk to some of my friends who have stopped subscribing to newspapers, news magazines and listening to some pundits because they are so willing to go off on stupid tangents. I thank Mr. O’Donnell for being an exception to even those of the “liberal” media who were willing to throw the administration under the bus just to get a big headline. Color me disgusted.

  • Keith Barrand

    Thanks for saying what I was about to say. The general media is the laziest bunch of ne’er do wells to be found anywhere these days. Does ANYBODY do investigative reporting anymore??

  • Anonymous

    Way to make news. Congratulation Alex. Would be a fine article. Except that it is FICTION! Progressive groups were NOT targeted like tea groups. Keep on trying to deflect.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/308131-ig-liberal-groups-not-targeted-like-tea-party

    And this actually was ideological and not a clerical error.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/irs-2012-election_n_3510455.html

    Shame on you!

  • Henry Fitts

    I am SO happy to read this article, not just from the perspective that it brings the truth and the facts to the forefront, but that it lets me know that their are still some “real journalists” out here, who resist the rush to “headline” and “scandal” and “scoop” and “braking news”,,,,to do their homework and report the “facts Jack, just the facts”. I had gotten to the point that I only followed the news on PBS because it was the only news that even remotely resembled what real daily news reporting used to be and should be, Thank you Bill Moyers and company for renewing my faith in this media.

  • Anonymous

    TRUE. those of us following ODonnell and Maddow wondered from week one when it would be realized that the only applicants denied were progressive.

  • Anonymous

    An interesting feature of the scandal?? is that there was equal opportunity profiling but more important is this. The actual law says for 501c4 groups they are to be exclusively social welfare. No political spending at all allowed. Not as interpreted to mean primarily social welfare with say only 49.9% political to 50.1% social welfare. But exclusively (meaning “only, solely”).

    Some one – maybe DOJ or some senator or representative – needs to go to court and get a writ of mandamus requiring the IRS to follow the law. Come to think of that it should be done to enforce the ACA PP.

    All 501c4 groups with any – I mean any political spending – must stop it or reconfigure under a different part of the irs code for politically active organizations.

    Problem solved.

  • Anonymous

    Then I have a couple of questions posed to me by a “conservative” friend. What about the questionnaires that she says were sent by Lois Lerner to only Tea Party groups? And, did Lois Lerner lie? Any proof of those?

  • jeffjon

    This is an ongoing investigation and you are declaring it over. Not only that you are saying the people that dared to cover it jumped to conclusions. First you said it was rouge agents from Cincinnati now we know that Washington-based IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull oversaw the Cincinnati IRS office’s targeting of
    tea party groups, even sending the Cincinnati office a letter he wrote
    to the Albuquerque Tea Party as a model for demanding additional
    information from tea party groups during audits, Then you said a lone “conservative Republican” manager .We know that Lois Lerner was sending letters to tea party groups from
    Washington. We know that at least four different offices were involved,
    according to documentation. Other IRS employees are saying that
    Washington was involved. Did the media also get the DOJ to go after the businesses of some groups ? Did the media get the DOJ and the Department of Labor to go after James Vandersloth. The Romney co chair was subjected to two audits by the IRS and received a visit from the DOJ and the Department of Labor. You don’t ask the question because you don’t want to know the answerer. If this was republican president you would all be screaming rat.

    .

  • jeffjon

    There isn’t one department of this goverment that is not involved in some form of scandal while dancing on the edge of 226 year old parchment and you have the unmitigated gall to criticize the media for jumping on a story that may or may not involve the IRS violating the civil rights of groups and individuals.The Seizing of AP phone records, the seizing of James Rosen and his parents computer records. The Attorney General lying to congress. Twice ! The intimidation of whistleblowers . The State Department is in free fall and they have interfered with investigations involving Benghazi , selling passports for sex ,solicitation of minors and who knows what else. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited donations from companies HHS
    might regulate and may or may not benefit from Obama care. The ACA is supposed to be a law but we know that Obama enforces laws he likes or parts of laws or who knows anymore. Do you demand resignations ? Do you demand accountability ?

  • Anonymous

    I was wondering if you have a reliable source for that claim?

    “For the 296 potential political cases we reviewed, as of December 17, 2012, 108 applications had been approved, 28 were withdrawn by the applicant, NONE HAD BEEN DENIED, and 160 cases were open from 206 to 1,138 calendar days (some crossing two election cycles).” (P#14)

    treasury(.)gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201310053fr.pdf

    Note: NONE HAD BEEN DENIED put in capitals by me.

  • jeffjon

    And one more thing. Remember how you painted these people as extremist. And how you said they were not a grass roots organization. Take a good hard look at the picture at the top of the page.

  • Marv Sammons

    How is it not the new watergate? It was never even alledged that Nixon ordered the breakin. Certainly you are not suggesting that the IRS hindering the opponents of an incombant president (The specific opponents which the president openly and repeatedly said someone needed to stop) is less of a crime than contractors breaking into a campain office looking for the october surprise?
    Has Obama been more cooperative? At this point in watergate, Nixon had fired the AG and personally endorsed an independent proscecutor.
    Frankly, I certainly don’t see anyway to spin this as less than watergate at this point, 2 months in. After 18 months when the stones have all been turned…maybe.

  • flav

    and let’s not leave out those “supposedly” murderous NAZIs.

  • Strawman411

    From the pieces you linked:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-th...

    “Levin and other Democrats have said this week that new information from the IRS that shows that the term “progressives” was on an agency watch list raised serious questions about the audit. Democrats have said the “flawed” report from George has allowed Republicans to overly politicize the investigation into the IRS’s treatment of groups seeking tax-exempt status.”

    And:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    “At issue is the significance of the different sections of the BOLO lists. According to the lists released by House Democrats this past week, Tea Party groups were placed in the category “Emerging Issues” while progressive groups fell under the heading “Touch and Go Historical.” This seems to be a reflection of the fact that the BOLO lists were created in 2010, when the tea party was emerging on the political scene. George said the different placement meant different treatment by IRS screeners.

    “From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled ‘Progressives,’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” he wrote. “The ‘Progressives’ criteria appeared on a section of the ‘Be On the Look Out’ (BOLO) spreadsheet labeled ‘Historical,’ and, unlike other BOLO entries, did not include instructions on how to refer cases that met the criteria.”

    So what you dismiss as “FICTION!” is rather waters still muddied by competing claims and evolving updates. The article’s thesis that everyone from partisan demagogues to putatively impartial mainstream “journalists” leap first and ask questions later has not yet been disproven.

  • Ha Ha

    Did you even read the article? Clearly, you didn’t percieve any of the basics of what happened here. The White House and the President were NOT involved in any way, the IRS did NOT unfairly single out Teapartiers (the Republican Congress did), and the Tea Party organizations that the IRS was looking at had applied for SOCIAL WELFARE not for profit status. Why aren’t you up in arms about the Tea Party groups that applied falsely for non profit status? Were you this alarmed when the Bush Whitehouse directed the IRS to pursue progressives? Or is it simply that yelling about the sky falling in response to complete fabrications is an easy enough activity for your brain to pursue?

  • Ha Ha

    Which report were you reading? The one provided to the Congressional Republicans was JUST about the Tea Party applications: the other applications were NOT addressed in that report.

  • Ha Ha

    Wow, are you way out in left (I mean, right) field! Watergate dealt with ILLEGAL activities, not disingenuous ones. This HAS cost people their jobs. And it wasn’t even happening! “hindering the opponents”?? Did you even read the article above? Wow…

  • Marv Sammons

    so you think there is no law against using the. various resources of the executive branch to muzzle your critics and political opponents or swing an election?

    funny, that the press thought it was pretty serious when they thought Nixon did it.

    with regard to people losing jobs…who might that be? would you be talking about the folks at the various nonprofits which were smothered by these minions of our dictator?

  • Jerome McDonald

    And it was not even a bureaucratic scandal, but a media invention. Does not the IRS have a responsibility to the American taxpayer to insure that those groups applying for tax free status really fill the bill? And now we know that Tea Party groups were not the only ones being examined. Still the cry is for mob rule.

  • NotARedneck

    What is outrageous:

    1) Right wing criminal trash use charitable status to promote their self serving politics.

    2) This was not investigated years ago and when it finally was, they were portrayed as victims.

    3) The scum doing this are not in prison.

  • NotARedneck

    Right wingers know that the only way that they win is to bring to bear the massive financial clout that they possess. Such illegal methods allow them to magnify their effectiveness at the expense of nearly all Americans.

  • jeffjon

    Yes .

  • jeffjon

    Oh I perceive plenty of the basics of what happened here. You so called tolerant people aren’t tolerant of any views but your own. Therefore only liberal groups are worthy of social welfare status , because after all they are not participating in political activity and even if they were it’s all for the greater good . I think your president and your movement are basically a fascistic in nature and I think they ran a populace campaign based on smear tactics. I think your president divides people by class race and gender and I think his administration is so convinced by the righteousness of its cause that they would self justify their behavior no matter who’s rights they violated. I think your president is incompetent and I know that the people he claims to care about would be better off had he not been elected in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    A recent study done by the National Cancer Institute of the NIH traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 80s. The two main organizations identified in the study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. FW and AfP were once a single organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.

    The study reveals that in 2002, the Kochs and tobacco-backed CSE designed and made public the first Tea Party Movement website under the web address http://www.usteaparty.com.

    Around September 2011, the U.S. Tea Party site was taken offline. According to the DNS registry, the web address http://www.usteaparty.com is currently owned by Freedomworks.

    Funded by billionaires, misrepresents itself as a “grassroots organization.”

  • jeffjon

    Do those people look like billionaires ? Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers were ignored by the IRS. They went after the small groups because they were more effective at the grass roots level.

    Only 21 of the 93 groups reported annual gross receipts higher than
    $25,000 between 2009 and 2011, according to the AP review. The $25,000
    figure is a threshold for the IRS because an organization’s financial
    strength and revenue sources are important factors in determining its
    tax-exempt status. Nonprofit groups reporting less than $25,000 a year
    are allowed to file a short-form, postcard tax return instead of a
    detailed filing — one indication of a low-budget operation.

    The median income for all the groups was just $16,700 a year. That
    figure includes several tea party organizations that boasted
    million-dollar budgets and a cluster of others with more than $100,000
    in annual revenues. The well-funded activist groups were led by the
    Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots Inc., the nation’s biggest tea party
    group, which started out with more than $700,000 in annual revenues in
    2009 and grew to $20.2 million annually in 2012.

  • jeffjon

    What color is the sky in your world ?

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, our media has become so intimidated by Faux News because of their initial high growth as a cable news network (it’s not growing anymore, and most of its viewers are elderly Repubs). The media lets Faux News drive every news cycle instead of engaging in their own independent reporting. A VERY VERY SMALL percentage of people get their news from cable, and even less from Faux News. Stop being intimidated by their no-longer-happening “growth.” The media needs to stop its sloppy journalism and start reporting for “the rest of us.” We deserve independent thinking as a complement to the First Amendment!

  • Anonymous

    OH PUH-LEEZE!!

  • jeffjon

    Yes that Faux is bad. They talk about things we don’t want them to talk about.

  • jeffjon

    I love the fact that you are an ethics professor. You are so open minded and tolerant of others even if their views differ from yours. And your deep understanding of goverment as it relates to the human condition is spot on.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t really reply to you in detail until you read the actual article. No one was “hindered.” Many organizations were checked. Only those on the right were “reported” as having been checked– because of the insistence of a congress person on the right. The IRS is in the business of CHECKING applications for tax exempt status. If they didn’t, there would be grounds to investigate a crime. Please try to feed your innuendo with actual facts. Nixon was a scumbag, and even in the highest office in the land he couldn’t hide the fact. He was a disgrace, even to Republicans, and his “rehabilitation” by today’s ignoramus right-wing is only a result of their never having learned the history. Ignorance is the tool of those who would harm us, and many on the right have adopted it as their own political strategy. Also, the current president is usually spelled “incumbent.”

  • LexLuthor

    OK so the Inspector General’s Report was wrong???

  • LexLuthor

    From the Inspector General’s Report:

    “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Ineffective management: 1) allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months, 2) resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.”

    Geez, it’s all in there, just read it, and enough with the ultra-leftist agitprop.

    This is Moyers LOL, I guess after flacking for LBJ’s murdering hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asians ol’ Bill will never be able to live it down. Must be a lot of guilt there.

  • Marv Sammons

    mr bird man, I have read the article, Unlike you I have also read the report, and the comments of most of the figures involved. it is true that the ig report contextually dealt with tea party organizations at the request of Issas committee. the characterization that this committee is republican is incorrect but since the activities are highly partisan, with the democrats trying to slow/stop investigation and most republicans trying to extend/expand it…I accept the implication that the report was ig report was limited due to a “congressperson on the right”

    why was that ? because dozens of right wing groups insisted that they were being denied access to normal certification, were being harassed, asked inappropriate questions, and in several cases had confidential information illegally provided to political opponents.

    we now know this is true because the apologies and excuses are part of the public record, however either you are unaware or wish to ignore this.

    at the time however, the testimony (lies) before the previous congressional inquiry denied this universally. The tea party groups furnished enough documents that Issa and his committee asked the IG to see if there was proof to dispute the denials. there was. Again this is a matter of public record.
    the IG has stated in response that he investigated whether there was a difference between the focus on conservative groups and apolitical or progressive groups. There was. this is what he reported in the narrow context of the request. Shulman and his collaborators lied to the first inquiry.

    it is not news that some non conservative groups were randomly audited (6) and expeditiously certified. all 292 conservative groups were escalated and sent for special scrutiny to DC. most still have no determination. 27 months is the average wait.

    what Solon has printed here is not reporting. it is a boldface attempt to alter a narrative to one based on spin rather than fact.

  • Marv Sammons

    with regard to Nixon, innuendo and typos.

    the “scumbag” as you called him disgusted me so much that I voted Reagan in the primary and Humphrey in the national election. I warrant that you probably did not have to make these decisions by the degree to which you spew the pablum of subsequent generations. in his first term Nixon was so effective and responsive to popular will that he won my vote in 72. I was not alone. even though the breakin was already reported Nixon won the election by more votes than any election prior or since.

    Hardly the pariah you paint him.

    To address your claim that he needed to be rehabilitated, I offer that the scotus ultimately ruled that the tapes were his personal property and returned them to his estate. this men’s of course that he was denied the same 5th amendment rights against self incrimination that Lois Lerner is demanding in this investigation.

    without those tapes, there was no case

  • moderator

    Hi Marv,

    Everyone has made their points quite clearly, it is time to move on.

    Thanks
    sean @ moyers

  • moderator

    Hi abirdman,

    I think everyone has made their points quite clearly, time to move on.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Marv Sammons

    like the investigation itself. “Move on, nothing here to see”

    wait a minute…Elijah…is that you?

    Rep Cummings, how do you do it? Clog the gears of all these congressional investigations and still have time to shill on these boards? Gotta get me some of whatever you supplement your morning cornflakes with.

    Melalueca?

  • Jon Henry

    Ya, like how Iraq played a part in 911, like how hyper inflation was going to break out due to policies implemented after the financial crisis, like how the election polls were rigged, like …

  • george jetson

    Presenting jeffjon with facts is a waste of time.
    He is further proof that you just cannot get through that bubble…

  • Gene Ogorodov

    One of the cornerstones of effective propaganda is creating the
    semblance of objectivity and open discussion. Fox News’ unwillingness to
    turn on their political masters shows them for the goose-stepping
    chauvinists that they are. MSNBC’s delight at jumping into the melee of
    the IRS scandal allows its viewers to imagine that they are watching
    something more than government propaganda. The media might have a slight
    Republican bias because its producers and personalities lean more
    towards the Democrats, but that is not much of a surprise since the
    Democratic Party is the stronger of the two and can afford to obfuscate
    its role in the dissemination of misinformation more than the
    Republicans. However, one must remember that non-scandals are very
    useful for the powers-that-be in covering up real scandals and removing
    inconvenient friends. If there is anyone who benefited from the IRS
    non-scandal it was the President. The IRS and Benghazi limited the
    collateral damage of Snowden and as a nice perk allowed him to demand
    the resignation of Presidential appointees without any justification
    what so ever. I don’t think one can suggest that the Executive Branch
    was behind the faux scandal (there are already too many conspiracy
    theories), but the willingness of the corporate media to attack the
    corporate party simply shows that they are all nothing more than cogs in
    the machinery that props up the real “rulers of mankind” — the
    plutocracy.

  • to h3ll with religion

    I am not tolerant of uneducated Americans trying to dictate policy. The picture above is classic Tea Party. Gestopo, classic lack of education. The most amusing thing is how eager they are to show their lack of education in public.

  • to h3ll with religion

    I am convinced that the Issa IRS witch hunt was nothing more than a way to distract the American public to get CISPA pushed through.

  • Strawman411

    With Issa’s record, I’m convinced that anything he does deserves close examination — there’s something in there somewhere to serve his corporate masters’ interests.

  • Strawman411

    “However, one must remember that non-scandals are very
    useful for the powers-that-be in covering up real scandals and removing
    inconvenient friends.”

    Spot on. Bread and circuses for us riffraff.

  • elliotness

    “As the journalism adage goes, everyone reads the false report and no one reads the correction.”

    Succinctly put. Pox on all their reporting houses. Now, can we get on with the people’s business? Please? Washington, can you hear me now?

  • pmf

    Lets stick to the facts. The tea party groups were targeted. The time frame for approval or any decision should not take more then a year. Some of those groups had to wait two years for a decision. If they do not qualify what is the point of leaving them in limbo. All most all of the progressive groups got qualified very rapidly. Just because you can find one or two that are disqualified does not mean the system was fair. Why did the Irs chief go too the white house so frequently? You really think that the Irs chiefs wife who is a progressive radical out to stop the tea party had no influence on him? Why is it a crime for the Koch brothers to start a group. Soros funds his progressive agenda without a word from you dingbats.