23 Liberal Media Outlets, Including MSNBC Defend IRS Tea Party Probe

Blame the victim! Twenty-three liberal news operations have taken that strategy about the IRS attack on conservative nonprofits. Fifteen of the 63 members of the left-wing Media Consortium have thrown their support behind the IRS’s investigation. The 15 organizations either wrote or re-posted stories defending the IRS actions.

Another eight liberal outlets, including MSNBC, ran similar stories. Altogether, these outlets have received a combined total of more $14 million dollars from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations since 2000.

The IRS admitted to giving extra scrutiny to applications for nonprofit status from groups with words like “tea party” or “patriot” in their descriptions. After this revelation, at least 25 media outlets ran stories arguing that “The IRS was doing its job,” “the IRS was justified,” and that the only crime the IRS committed was “the sin of political correctness.”

These stories called for further scrutiny of conservative nonprofits after the IRS was already found to be targeting such groups. Besides the consortium members, at least an additional eight liberal news outlets have written similar stories since the IRS scandal became public knowledge.

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell declared: “I believe that the IRS agents in this case did nothing wrong.” Even The Los Angeles Times ran a story arguing that the IRS was justified in its targeting of Tea Party related groups.

Alternet, Care 2, Color Lines, the David Parkman Show, Democracy Now!, Feet in 2 Worlds, Free Speech TV, Free Speech Radio News, Hightower Lowdown, LA Progressive, Mother Jones, The Nation, Thom Hartmann, Truthout and the Washington Monthly are all members of the Media Consortium that wrote articles speaking out against conservative nonprofits and defending the actions of the IRS since May 10, 2013, when the story broke. At least nine of these 15 outlets are Soros-funded.

Alternet argued that “The IRS was doing its job,” but that the “staff were overwhelmed by thousands of obvious political groups.” Mother Jones blamed the scandal on “incompetence” and “not wrongdoing,” saying that it was difficult to tell which groups needed to be singled out.

The Media Consortium was created to be a progressive "echo chamber," where left-wing media outlets can network and share ideas, as well as cross-promote stories.

The Huffington Post, American Prospect, The New Republic, Think Progress, Reader Supported News, the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Public Integrity and Democracy 21 are not members of the Media Consortium, but also ran articles or sent out press releases criticizing conservative groups. The Los Angeles Times ran a piece on May 14 subtitled “Allowing so many 'social welfare' groups to enjoy tax-exempt status while participating in politics must stop. The IRS is obligated to scrutinize applicants, 'tea party' or no.”

The New Republic blatantly pushed the IRS to keep targeting conservative groups saying, “Democrats can’t say it; Barack Obama can’t say it; and the IRS certainly can’t say it, so here goes: The only real sin the IRS committed in its ostensible targeting of conservatives is the sin of political incorrectness – that is, of not pretending it needed to vet all the new groups that wanted tax-exempt status, even though it mostly just needed to vet right-wing groups.”

While the first reports that the IRS was devoting extra scrutiny to conservative groups began in Cincinnati in March 2010, the attacks began to pick up steam on a national level soon after Soros-funded groups began firing off letters to the IRS in October 2010 – following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 sent a series of letter to the IRS, urging them to look more carefully at several conservative nonprofits, in the months leading up to IRS policy changes that targeted conservative groups. The legal center and Democracy 21 have been funded by the Open Society Foundations.

After the scandal, Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said that, while the “IRS was dead wrong to target conservative groups,” it was clear to him that “a number of groups have improperly claimed tax exempt status,” and that the IRS should scrutinize applications further. Wertheimer mentioned the letters that Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center sent to the IRS, but failed to say that conservative groups were the target of those letters.

The Campaign Legal Center expressed concern that “the IRS singling out those groups could result in less legitimate scrutiny if the agency backs away from the political hot potato.”

 

Soros Funded Groups That Defended IRS Targeting of Conservative Nonprofits

Center for American Progress (Think Progress): $5,784,991

Center for Public Integrity: $2,716,328

American Prospect: $1,280,000

Color Lines: $780,000

Campaign Legal Center: $677,000

Media Consortium: $675,000

Human Rights Campaign: $600,000

Mother Jones: $485,000

Democracy 21: $365,000

ProPublica: $300,000

Alternet: $285,000

The Nation: $77,000

Washington Monthly: $75,000

Care 2, Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV and TruthOut also received Soros funding, but the exact amounts were not disclosed.

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a staff writer for the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute.