On Friday's Morning Joe program, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough complained about the absence of media attention to the fact that IRS commissioner John Koskinen, in charge of an organization currently embroiled in an investigation into whether it has unfairly targeted conservative groups during the Obama administration, is himself a "big Democratic donor" who has donated to President Barack Obama twice and, over the years, almost $100,000 to various Democrats.
Regular panel members Mark Halperin of Time magazine and John Heilemann of New York magazine joined in as Scarborough called out the New York Times in particular and imagined how the Times would have reacted if the roles had been reversed during the George W. Bush administration. Scarborough asked:
Again, we're asking this question that we love to ask right here, is if George W. Bush's IRS commissioner was a big fat cat Republican donor, and his IRS targeted Democrats, and then they started asking questions and emails were destroyed, I'm just curious if the New York Times would have written a big article about that.
Inspiring laughter from Scarborough, Heilemann mocked the Times with sarcasm:
I'm sure not. It seems totally irrelevant to the conversation. The New York Times has great news judgment and is totally fair across the board always.
Halperin chimed in:
You know what there'd be? There'd be a giant infographic with the guy's picture and dotted lines.... G. Gordon Liddy was on his Christmas cards list.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, June 27, Morning Joe on MSNBC:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The IRS commissioner, we're going to talk about more eruptions on Capitol Hill on the IRS, the fact this big Democratic donor finds himself in the middle of a very tough scandal on Capitol Hill about the possible targeting of Republicans.
Hey, did you guys do a check, has the New York Times or the Washington Post or any of the broadcast networks mentioned, Alex, that the IRS commissioner is a big Democratic donor and contributed-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We did a preliminary search, not that we can find from Washington Post or New York Times.
MARK HALPERIN, TIME MAGAZINE: You don't mean the current IRS commissioner?
SCARBOROUGH: The current IRS commissioner-
HALPERIN, SMILING: What the whah?
SCARBOROUGH: -who is in the middle of this scandal about targeting Republicans and destroying emails, has contributed to Democrats, reportedly no Republicans, all Democrats, contributed to Barack Obama twice, contributed to the Democratic Party. And I just find it curious, again, over $100,000, I just find it very curious and I'm just wondering if a Republican-
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: It's actually just under $100,000.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, is it just under?
HALPERIN: Joe rounded up.
SCARBOROUGH: That's why we have -- I'm a politician. Again, we're asking this question that we love to ask right here is if George W. Bush's IRS commissioner-
HALPERIN: Was a fat cat donor.
SCARBOROUGH: -was a big fat cat Republican donor, and his IRS targeted Democrats, and then they started asking questions and emails were destroyed, I'm just curious if the New York Times would have written a big article about that.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, SMILING: I'm sure not. [SCARBOROUGH LAUGHS] It seems totally irrelevant to the conversation. The New York Times has great news judgment and is totally fair across the board always.
SCARBOROUGH: I love the New York Times, but would the New York Times or the Washington Post, would ABC, CBS, NBC,
HALPERIN: You know what there'd be? There'd be a giant infographic with the guy's picture and dotted lines.
SCARBOROUGH: Of course there would. And, like, the Web, they would have pictures of Richard Nixon and every Republican he contributed to.
HALPERIN: G. Gordon Liddy was on his Christmas cards list.
HEILEMANN: It would be like that snowfall thing, that snow crash infographic thing they have, the thing they did with Joe Ricketts back in 2012.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly, it would have been the Joe Ricketts thing. They would have loved it. And yet, we can't find a single mention that the IRS commissioner stuck in the middle of this scandal about targeting President Obama's opponents is actually a big Democratic donor.
HEILEMANN: The New York Times assignment desk is all over this now, as of this moment.
SCARBOROUGH: I find that extraordinarily curious. As I said the other day, a lot of times bias doesn't come in what you cover, it comes in what you do not cover.
HALPERIN: And in the mindset.
SCARBOROUGH: And in the mindset.