NY Times Runs Only 13 Stories on IRS In Last Six Months

[See update below.] The New York Times’ motto is “all the news that’s fit to print” but in their eyes it seems as though the IRS scandal isn’t worth printing all that much. 

Research conducted by the Media Research Center found that in the past 6 months (183 days) the New York Times has published only 13 news items on the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups.  The study focused on the dates of December 25, 2013 until June 26, 2014 and did not include editorial or opinion pieces published in the Times. 

In fact, our research found that not a single story on the IRS made it onto the front page of the New York Times and all stories were saved for the National pages deep inside the front section, so an IRS story never came before page A12. Our results were obtained using a Nexis search of key words including “IRS” and “Lois Lerner” and “Tea Party” but did not include stories referencing the IRS scandal as part of larger political stories. 

Since December 25, 2013 the front section of the New York Times has run approximately 5,694 stories in its front section, excluding obituaries and opinion/editorial pieces. Of these approximately 5,694 news stories, less than one quarter of one percent of the paper’s front section news stories -centered around the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

For example, on Wednesday, June 25, the New York Times buried a story on the United States Archivist accusing the IRS of not following the law in the wake of Lois Lerner's hard drive crash on page A15 and ignored the IRS’ admission of wrongdoing for leaking the tax information of the National Organization for Marriage and subsequently paid the group $50,000 in damages.

On June 25, the Times buried a story on the U.S. archivist blaming the IRS for not following the law following Lois Lerner’s infamous hard drive crash on page A15. When it was revealed that the hard drive of IRS official Lois Lerner crashed containing thousands of emails the New York Times hid the story on page A15.

On April 11, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt for refusing to answer questions about the IRS scandal but that story only made it to page A20 and when Lerner was held in contempt by the House of Representatives on May 8 the story ran on page A18. On March 26, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa claimed that Ms. Lerner was stonewalling the IRS investigation which earned it page A21 coverage in the March 27 Times. 

While the New York Times didn’t find the IRS scandal worthy of its front page it did find it front-page worthy to try and sink Chris Christie with another “second bridge scandal” story which MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mocked by insisting “this is why conservatives don’t trust the newspapers.” 

UPDATE: The New York Times's public editor on Friday responded to criticism about the paper's coverage of the IRS scandal. Margaret Sullivan admitted: "The Times was somewhat late in beginning to cover the latest development about the lost emails."

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