WashPost’s Dionne Spins for IRS: ‘Trying To Do What Needs To Be Done’

Liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne did his best to spin on behalf of the IRS over their targeting of conservative groups during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Dionne was part of the panel on Sunday, June 22 and insisted: “The problem with the IRS story is the IRS was trying to do what needs to be done, which is there is an abuse of the 501 (c)(4) status.”

The segment began with MTP moderator David Gregory insisting that “this is a story that doesn't go away for President Obama. No direct evidence of wrongdoing. But this is not great competence and management when you can't find missing e-mails." Both Gregory and Dionne seemed to conclude that the IRS suffered from “mismanagement” and a lack of “competence” and that no deliberate targeting of conservative groups occurred. 

The Post columnist, a former reporter for both it and the New York Times, continued his defense of the IRS by maintaining: “You should not have all these political groups getting that status. That's what they were trying to fix. Then all kinds of stories about how were they targeting, it  turned out they weren't as partisan in their targeting.”

While Dionne did attempt to justify his defense of the IRS by noting “If this happened in a different administration, I can imagine what Democrats would say. It's very inconvenient incompetence if it’s incompetence,” he failed to see the seriousness of the IRS scandal as nothing more than a political headache for President Obama. 

See relevant transcript below. 


NBC's Meet the Press

June 22, 2014

DAVID GREGORY: At the same time, I just referred to Paul Ryan’s outburst on Capitol Hill to the head of the IRS over these lost drives and e-mails with regard to targeting tea party groups. This is a story that doesn't go away for President Obama. No direct evidence of wrongdoing. But this is not great competence and management when you can't find missing e-mails. 

ERIKA HAROLD: Well I think that Americans right now have a real sense of cynicism because they feel like there's a set of rules for the average citizen and then a set of rules for powerful and the politically connected. And I think a lot of people know that if they were being audited by the IRS and they said, I simply lost all the documentation--

GREGORY: How would that go? 

HAROLD: I think they would not find a very sympathetic ear. 

E.J. DIONNE: The problem with the IRS story is the IRS was trying to do what needs to be done, which is there is an abuse of the 501 (c)(4) status. You should not have all these political groups getting that status. That's what they were trying to fix. Then all kinds of stories about how were they targeting, it  turned out they weren't as partisan in their targeting. And I actually believe in the government it is quite possible that incompetence rather than conspiracy led to this. But put yourself on the other side. If this happened in a different administration, I can imagine what Democrats would say. It's very inconvenient incompetence if it’s incompetence.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.