In emails released by House investigators on Wednesday, former IRS official Lois Lerner was revealed in emails to have had a pretty negative opinion of activist conservatives – precisely the type of person who might have applied to her division for tax-exempt status for their newly formed political action committee only to encounter discrimination.
How negative was Lerner’s opinion of grassroots conservatives? Well, at one point she compared them unfavorably with terrorists and suggested that the American right was a greater threat to the nation’s security than were violent extremists. She also called conservatives “a**holes,” and exposed her own high opinion of her self and her upbringing when she described a group of tourists as the “hoi paloi.” In all, Lerner paints a damning portrait of herself in her private correspondences.
These latest emails suggest a political bias on Lerner’s part so unmistakably that even those in the political press, many of whom have been willing to bend over backwards to extend the IRS the benefit of the doubt, can no longer avoid acknowledging the obvious.
While most of the major news networks have not yet made note of the latest emails, CBS This Morning did bring its audience up to speed on the latest controversy. After asking if the latest emails represent a “smoking gun,” CBS quoted Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) who told reporters that the Lerner had evidenced “a political bias against conservatives.”
MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts made a startling admission when tackling the issue of the latest emails. While the panel’s Republicans were animated about these newest developments, the majority of the program’s liberals were silent. Only NBC News personality Willie Geist offered his thoughts on the newest revelations.
“If the question is, ‘was there political, ideological bias inside the IRS?’ Geist asked, “It’s hard to argue ‘no.’”
CNN’s New Day politics panel offered a similar take on the latest emails. Asked if the latest correspondences could create a critical mass which might force the administration to surrender control of the IRS investigation to an independent investigator, Associated Press White House reporter Julie Pace said she did not think so. She did, however, concede that it appears the former IRS official accused of discriminating against conservatives “had a real axe to grind” with conservatives.
National Journal Editorial Director Ron Fournier was more succinct. “To borrow the president’s phrase, there’s at least a smidgen of bias in the IRS,” he said.
The only institution which could force the administration to consent to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS would be an irate political media, particularly heading into a contested election. They do not appear to be there just yet, but the inability to dismiss these latest revelations as inconsequential is telling.
At a certain point, you just run out of excuses. After more than a year of damaging revelations out of the IRS, the press is almost entirely out of excuses.