CNN Hosts: Paul Ryan ‘Not a Happy Man Today,’ But IRS Scandal Exists Because GOP 'So Mad About It'

On Friday’s edition of CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon, host Don Lemon and CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash made some unusual remarks about a Republican, but later retreated to downplaying one of the many scandals facing the Obama administration this midterm election year.

Discussing a hearing being held by the House Ways and Means Committee that featured testimony from IRS commissioner John Koskinen regarding the destroyed -- or as the IRS terms it "recycled" -- hard drive of former IRS official Lois Lerner, Lemon began by referring to Congressman Paul Ryan as “not a happy man today.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

Bash followed up by agreeing that “he’s not at all” and then gave viewers background on why the hearing was being held plus the latest development in the IRS’s targeting of conservative non-profits. Bash then played a contentious exchange in which Ryan grilled Koskinen and the tax-collection agency.

“Sitting here listening to this testimony, I just -- I don't believe it. That's your problem. Nobody believes you,” Ryan declared. 

After the clip, Lemon carried on Ryan’s argument by saying to Bash, “[h]e does have a point. He has several points, does he not?”

Bash then agreed with Lemon by reminding viewers that Ryan is more general known for not going on the attack but instead for being a “policy wonk”:

BASH: Yes. Several points, but one thing that I want to say just again to put this in a little bit of context is that, number one, Paul Ryan is – is certainly a well-known Republican, but he's a policy wonk. He doesn't usually play the role of partisan attack dog and the fact that he was so worked up and he said something that every American can relate to. Why can the IRS demand American taxpayers save seven years of tax records and they can't save six months of emails. 

However, the segment did end on a more familiar note (compared this rare agreement between a conservative and the media). Bash told viewers that “what’s important to keep in mind” is that CNN did “story after story after story” when the IRS scandal broke last year, but the story had, in her words, “really died down as we get closer to the election.”

The actions now of Republicans upon hearing of the destroyed emails has, in her words, brought the IRS scandal “back up to the fore, and made it much more of an issue again."

That may well be, of course, because the liberal media will not pay due attention to the scandal as they should -- and as they would were it a Republican in the Oval Office -- without some fireworks and theatrics as the news hook.


The full segment transcript is transcribed below:

CNN 

CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon

June 20, 2014

10:40 a.m. Eastern

DON LEMON, anchor: There is a contentious hearing going on on Capitol Hill that involves the IRS and the former director, Lois Lerner, and her emails. What happened to them? Was she actually targeting tea party people and conservatives? Dana Bash now on Capitol Hill with the very latest or in Washington with the very latest. So, what's going on? Paul Ryan and, you know, I misspoke before the break. I said he was on the House floor. He's actually in those hearings. Paul Ryan is not a happy man today. 

DANA BASH, reporter: No, he's not at all, and he is one of the many Republicans during this hearing grilling the IRS commissioner and the issue is that on Friday, Congress found out that over two years of emails that Lois Lerner had on her hard drive are gone. That's what the IRS says and now we've learned from the IRS commissioner that the hard drive was actually recycled and destroyed, so there's no way for Congress to go in and check to make sure that's actually the case. So that's the backdrop here. Listen to what happened with Paul Ryan. 

Rep. PAUL RYAN (R-Wis.): Sitting here listening to this testimony, I just -- I don't believe it. That's your problem. Nobody believes you. 

Rep. SANDER LEVIN (D-Mich.): Come on now. 

RYAN: The Internal Revenue Service comes to Congress a couple of years ago and misleads us and says no targeting is occurring. Then it said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All of those things have been proven untrue. This committee sent a criminal referral of possible criminal wrongdoing just a month ago to the Justice Department. We've heard nothing. You bury in a 27-page letter to the Senate, asking for them to conclude the investigation, that you've lost Lois Lerner's emails during the time in question because of a hard drive crash. Monday, our investigators ask your agency whether any other hard drives crash and we learn that six other hard drives of the people we're investigating were involved. You didn't tell us that.

IRS Commissioner JOHN KOSKINEN: We told you on Monday. 

RYAN: On Monday. 

KOSKINEN: And what did you do with you the-- 

RYAN: Because we asked you! 

LEMON: He does have a point. He has several points, does he not? 

BASH: Yes. Several points, but one thing that I want to say just again to put this in a little bit of context is that, number one, Paul Ryan is – is certainly a well-known Republican, but he's a policy wonk. He doesn't usually play the role of partisan attack dog and the fact that he was so worked up and he said something that every American can relate to. Why can the IRS demand American taxpayers save seven years of tax records and they can't save six months of emails. And then number – 

LEMON: Right.

BASH: And then number two, while he was doing that, you probably heard a Democrat say come on now. This has become so incredibly contentious, that Democrats are apologizing to the witness, for being badgered, for being in the words of one, an inquisition for saying that Republicans are determined to make have – make this a conspiracy. One of the Democrats even sort of very sarcastically asked if he responsible for hiding the president's birth certificate and things like that. You know, bringing up other Republican conspiracies in the eyes of Democrats. But just big picture here, Don, here's what's important to keep in mind. The IRS scandal, we did story after story after story when this first broke. It's really died down as we get closer to the election. The fact that these emails were destroyed and that Congress is -- Republicans are so mad about it, has brought it back up to the fore, and made it a much more of an issue again. 

LEMON: Certainly has and more to come. I’m sure. Dana, thank you. Keep an eye on that. We’ll get back to you. 

BASH: Will do.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division