Dog Ate the Homework? Newspapers Take Four Days to Notice Lois Lerner's E-mails 'Missing'

The networks have mostly ignored new stories on the Internal Revenue Service claiming on Friday they lost two years of lost e-mails from IRS official Lois Lerner (and then six others) in the investigation of IRS attempts to inhibit conservative groups in the Obama years. But what about America's leading newspapers? Not Saturday. Not Sunday. Not Monday.

The Watergate hounds at The Washington Post didn’t report on Lerner’s “lost” e-mails in the paper until Tuesday, on page A-17. Today’s paper floods the zone on a Patent Office decision on “Redskins”– including a front-page spread and a gooey top editorial –  but this is chopped liver. The New York Times also arrived on Tuesday, on page A-15.

Times reporter David Joachim relayed “The Internal Revenue Service commissioner will testify before two House committees next week about the agency's disclosure that it lost thousands of emails sought by investigators looking into accusations of politically motivated misconduct by the agency, the committees said Monday.”

In the Post, Philip Bump reported three days late that “On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service told congressional investigators that it could not recover two years of e-mails from Lois Lerner, the former agency official at the center of an ongoing probe into whether the scrutiny of conservative groups was politically motivated.”

The Post has yet to report that the IRS also claims to have lost e-mails from another six IRS staffers in the scandal.

The New York Times printed that in a 458-word story on Wednesday on page A-18. Theodore Schleifer reported: “Six additional Internal Revenue Service workers lost emails sought by congressional investigators when their computers crashed, investigators announced Tuesday, escalating Republican suspicions that the employees may have been trying to cover up political targeting of Tea Party organizations.”


The headline was shown on CBS This Morning in the one network mention of the scandal.

USA Today arrived on Wednesday, on page 2A with a 440-word story headlined “A long list of reasons led to lost IRS e-mails; Agency failed to save crucial documents.”

Anyone who thinks the Los Angeles Times is a national paper should think again. Searches for “Lois Lerner” and “Internal Revenue Service” for the last week brought the notification “No Documents Found.”

The same words come in searches of MSNBC, the PBS NewsHour, and NPR (whose top-of-the-hour newscasts are not included).

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis