Via Newsbusters, if you’ve got reporters now saying stuff like this on the air at Obama TV, you’ve got something. I’m pleasantly surprised that she named two different scandals as big deals, as there seems to be a developing strategy (on Twitter at least) among lefties to choose just one as the “real scandal” as a way of minimizing the rest. If that’s how this shakes out, the AP/DOJ showdown will quickly become the “real scandal,” partly because it’s legitimately troubling, partly because the media has a professional stake in it, and partly because it probably has the least amount of “legs” for Republicans as an electoral issue before the midterms. (Although don’t put it past some especially committed lefties to conclude that the real scandal here is, naturally, the GOP.) The flaw in that strategy, though, is that the IRS story simply won’t stop growing; pause here and take a gander at just the last 16 hours or so of our front page. This clusterfark may reach the point where it’s narrative-proof, even if the narrative involves beating O up over a different scandal in the name of limiting the damage.
Speaking of which, the IRS’s own narrative is likely to shift soon to “we agonized over what we were doing and came to realize it was wrong.” That’s a lie. According to HuffPo, which has seen the appendix to the forthcoming IG report, it was only when complaints from tea-party groups started trickling into the media last year — causing some “respectable” media outlets to laugh — that the agency started to clean up its act. To think, if only the DOJ had snooped on those reporters too to shut them up, there might be tea-party harassment ongoing to this day:
The appendix, obtained by The Huffington Post on Monday, also shows that IRS officials began to express concern regarding media reports on their activities. In February and March of 2012, the timeline in the appendix of the report by the treasury inspector general for tax administration notes that “numerous news articles began to be published with complaints from Tea Party organizations,” which led to congressional interest. On March 23 and March 27, top officials at the IRS -– including current acting commissioner Steven Miller –- “discussed concerns with the media attention the Tea Party applications were receiving.”…
The first specific change in how the IRS was engaging these tea party groups did not happen, according to the inspector general’s report, until Feb. 29, 2012, around the time that media reports were getting the IRS’ attention. At this time, Lerner halted new requests for information, and discussed rescinding the IRS demand that groups print out their entire website. The second substantive change came on March 8, 2012, when Miller, then the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, told a unit within the IRS that if an applicant contacted them about “having to provide donor information, the Determinations Unit would allow them to not send the donor names but would inform them that the IRS may need it later.”
Wait a sec. I thought Miller, allegedly, didn’t find out that tea-party groups were being targeted until May 2012. Now HuffPo has him fretting about media coverage in late March. How long did this guy know this was going on while saying nothing?
Exit question: Will the media learn any lessons from this about not initially dismissing criticisms of Obama’s administration out of hand simply because they come from conservatives? (Exit answer: No.)