ABC's World News stood out as the sole Big Three evening newscast on Wednesday to not cover the release of Lois Lerner's e-mails, where the former top IRS official slammed conservatives as "a**holes" and "crazies." Instead, the news program devoted full reports to the water main that burst on the campus of UCLA and the controversy over usage charges on cell phone bills.
By contrast, NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News on Wednesday both set aside about two minutes each of air time to Lerner's "salty language," as NBC's Kelly O'Donnell put it: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
What will it take for the networks to start covering the IRS scandal again? How about the central figure emonstrating her personal bias against conservatives? On Wednesday CNSNews.com reported the following bombshell: “A newly discovered email exchange from Lois Lerner’s official IRS email account ‘directly demonstrates Ms. Lerner’s deep animus towards conservatives, which she refers to as ‘---holes,’ House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday.”
Will the venomous language Lerner used be enough to get the networks to notice the IRS targeting scandal again? If recent history is any guide, probably not.
The saga of Lois Lerner’s missing emails took a bunch of twists and turns this past week, but you wouldn’t know that if you only got your news from the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks. On July 21, it was reported that even more IRS officials had their hard drives crash on them, including employees who “routinely corresponded” with Lerner. What a coincidence! On that same day it was revealed that a top IRS official was uncertain if backup tapes of Lerner’s lost emails still existed. The next day the story changed again when it was reported that Lerner’s hard drive was only “scratched” and the data was recoverable.
Then on July 23 the head of the IRS testified that the back up tapes had finally been discovered but stressed he does not “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not.” So how many of these intriguing nuggets were reported on any of the network evening or morning shows last week?
On Thursday, with PJ Media's J. Christian Adams as her guest, Fox News's Megyn Kelly recited a list of assertions (under oath, she reminded us) made by Internal Revenue Service officials which have later been shown to be lies or cause for agency flip-flops after "new" facts have been revealed.
It's a significant list. By implication, it's an indictment of the vast majority of the establishment press, which has refused to give the IRS scandal the attention it deserves. Video and a transcript follow the jump.
On Tuesday, July 22, Robert McDonald, President Obama’s nominee to take over as Secretary for the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs, appeared before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, yet his testimony received a minuscule 24 seconds on ABC, CBS, and NBC.
In fact, the only “big three” coverage of McDonald’s testimony came on Tuesday morning, before the actual hearing occurred, courtesy of NBC’s Today. None of the network newscasts covered the actual nomination proceedings on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, July 22, CBS News’ Stephanie Condon got around to reporting that the IRS may in fact be able to recover Lois Lerner’s missing emails despite previous claims that they were permanently lost. In testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Thomas Kane, deputy associate chief counsel to the IRS, maintained that “there is an issue as to whether or not there is a - that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the six-month retention schedule.”
Although CBS was a day late covering the latest in the IRS scandal, when the network finally reported on this development, it didn’t make it onto CBS News’ airwaves and instead appeared only on CBSNews.com.
On Monday, IRS deputy associate chief council Thomas Kane told the House Oversight Committee that he is unsure whether or not backup tapes of the lost Lois Lerner emails exist.
Despite the potential bombshell surrounding the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, all three network evening news shows, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and the NBC Nightly News, ignored the revelations on Monday, July 21.
According to American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman, movement conservatives live in a bubble, but in this case none of the cards therein say “Moops.” Rather, each carries the name of what righties (though usually not Waldman himself) consider one or another of the Obama administration’s scandals.
In a Wednesday post, Waldman wrote that what he called “the IRS scandalette” is “an almost perfect expression of contemporary congressional Republicanism” since it features qualities such as “the obsession with conservative victimhood” as well as the GOPers’ “utter disinterest in governing” and their “obliviousness to facts.”
Both CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today chose to ignore the latest news in the IRS scandal Thursday morning that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be investigating the disappearance and destruction of emails pertaining to former IRS official Lois Lerner.
Meanwhile, ABC’s Good Morning America did cover the news, but only devoted 22 seconds to the story in the form of a news brief during the 7:00 a.m. hour. News reader Amy Robach reported “[a]nd in Washington, a major development in the IRS targeting scandal. The agency is accused of targeting conservative groups. Well now there is word the Justice Department will investigate the disappearance of e-mails the agency claims were lost when a computer crashed. The e-mails were to and from Lois Lerner, a key former IRS official who has refused to testify.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Attorney General Eric Holder granted an exclusive interview to ABC’s “This Week” from London, where he was portrayed by ABC as deeply concerned about the global terrorist threat. What stands out from this very rare session – Holder hasn’t been on Sunday network television in four years – is that Holder pulled out the oldest, lamest card in the Obama political deck: Obama and he are opposed by people who should be suspected of racism.
On Monday, viewers of CNN saw the hosts of New Day continue their championing of the Obama administration on illegal immigration with co-host Chris Cuomo asking for the rule of law to be set aside. Cuomo also mocked Republicans for being obsessed with the IRS scandal and not responding with compassion to the “flood of child humanity.”
Speaking with CNN contributors Kevin Madden (a Republican strategist) and Dan Restrepo (a former adviser to President Obama on Latin American affairs), Cuomo began by wondering: Dan Restrepo, where is the humanity? People want to argue law. They should. They should also remember it was President Bush that signed this victim protection act that makes it difficult to repatriate kids, but let’s put the law aside because where is the humanity in this? How did kids get lost in partisan politics? [MP3 audio here; Video below]
There were three developments in the IRS-targets-the-Tea Party scandal in the past two days, all individually meriting coverage on their own right but, taken together as a package are most definitely newsworthy. Despite this, neither ABC's World News nor the CBS Evening News nor the NBC Nightly News spared even a second of coverage to them on their July 10 broadcasts.
By contrast, time was made to cover stories like country artist Garth Brooks's return to the industry (ABC), the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth's start in the big leagues (CBS), and a baby boom in Washington, D.C., nine months after the government shutdown (NBC). Both NBC and ABC briefly mentioned the Emmy Awards nominations and all three broadcasts had time to note the passing of modeling agency executive Eileen Ford.
On Thursday morning, ABC and NBC refused to cover the latest scoop in the IRS scandal. Politicoreported on Wednesday afternoon that former IRS official Lois Lerner cautioned her colleagues about what they write in emails in case any of them come under congressional investigation.
CBS This Morning did not do much better, as the news warranted only a 19 second mention during the 7:30 a.m. half hour when covering headlines from publications across the country. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
This goes back to a week ago Saturday morning, but given the content and that it occurred on a weekend, it really needs more visibility.
On June 28, Juan Williams put in an appearance on a Fox News "Cashin' In" show panel which discussed the IRS scandal. Host Eric Bolling discussed poll results revealing that three-quarters of Americans believe that the IRS deliberately destroyed emails, and overhwelmingly want to see people involved in destroying the emails to be held accountable. The video after the jump, accompanied by Mediaite coverage containing key quotes, will show that Williams not only insists that he is completely unimpressed with the newsworthiness of the story, but also believe that those who believe it to be important are engaging in a "paranoia conspiracy" (Warning: Those who are on blood pressure meds should make that they have taken them and have allowed enough time to pass for them to achieve their proper effect; bolds are mine):
One must perversely admire the gall of the New York Times editorial page. Sunday's lead editorial, "The Real IRS Scandal," says that the "real scandal" at the politicized agency isn't its targeting of citizens with anti-Obama views before the last election, isn't the suspiciously lost emails by an agent who pled the fifth before Congress, but a lack of sufficient funds because of the GOP.
Republican-fostered cuts to the agency's budget have evidently meant less audits of "the rich," which in turn spells "bad news for building roads, keeping the air clean, protecting the nation’s security, and countless other vital government tasks." A commenter accurately accused the Times of changing the subject.
Media Research Center's Rich Noyes appeared on the Monday, June 30 edition of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. to discuss the MRC's latest findings about the network news avoiding developments in the IRS scandal. "ABC, CBS, and NBC their evening newscasts did not touch the Lerner email story for seven days," Noted informed guest host Charles Payne. What's more, "it took a congressional hearing where Paul Ryan called the commissioner of the IRS to get them to notice, and then they dropped it the very next morning."
"This is still the media that reach the broadest number of people" with "25 million people a night watch[ing] one of the Big Three newscasts," Noyes noted, arguing that as such "they still have a huge agenda-setting role and when they decide to leave something off the agenda... the public is harmed." [watch video of the full segment follow page break]
Insisting that he's really been out of the domestic news loop, ABC News Supreme Court correspondent Terry Moran told Dan Joseph of NewsBusters sister site MRCTV.org this morning that he was in northern Iraq the past few weeks and wasn't really aware of his network's recent decisions to ignore stunning new developments in the IRS and VA scandals. What's more, he suggested, if folks really care about news regarding the IRS scandal, well, there are other places to go besides ABC.
"You know, the news judgment of every network and of every person is different," Moran offered. "I understand that for some people, that's a hugely crucial issue, and there are places that they can get that," he added. The former Nightline host then tried to establish distance from the network's story selection process before insisting he was out of pocket anyway because he was overseas. [watch the full exchange below the page break]
If only there were an Obama scandal for journalists to cover.
Almost exactly two years after the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank ludicrously claimed “the media would love to have an Obama scandal to cover,” on Sunday’s MediaBuzz on FNC, veteran DC journalist Julie Mason encapsulated the attitude of the Washington press corps which has little interest in the IRS scandal, insisting that “every journalist in town would love if there was proof of a scandal, they would be galloping after it.”
In the Friday PBS NewsHour,anchor Judy Woodruff lamented the current impasse in Washington: "I don’t know what else to call it, war between congressional Republicans and the president."
She sounded shocked that Speaker John Boehner filed suit to protest the president's constant end-runs around Congress and legislating from the White House on Obamacare, immigration, and other issues. Shields called the suit "absolutely bogus" and compared it to impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998:
There’s a saying that “life isn’t one damn thing after another – it’s the same damn thing over and over again.” That’s essentially what Steve Benen, a producer for MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” argued regarding the IRS scandal in a Thursday blog post on the “TRMS” website.
Benen claimed that throughout “the imaginary IRS ‘scandal,’ there’s [been] an interesting pattern of events that serves as a template for every development. It starts with an alarming report, which is followed by scrutiny, which leads to details that make the original report appear meaningless.”
The New York Times's public editor on Friday responded to criticism about the paper's coverage of the IRS scandal, admitting: "The Times was somewhat late in beginning to cover the latest development about the lost emails." An analysis by the Media Research Center's Jeffrey Meyer on Thursday 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."
Public editor Margaret Sullivan questioned David Joachim, the Times's Washington-based reporter, on the scant coverage. He offered an equivalence that seemed dismissive of complaints: "One side sees a Nixonian abuse of power and cover-up; the other sees an effort to smear the White House for electoral gain in the midterms. That stuff brings out passions."
During Thursday’s edition of The Situation Room on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer committed an act of journalism in grilling IRS Commissioner John Koskinen with question after question about the growing IRS e-mail scandal. His questioning included one where he asked (via a Twitter follower), “[w]hy shouldn’t taxpayers use the crashed hard drive excuse when undergoing an IRS audit?”
The interview, which lasted 13 minutes and 47 seconds, is more time than ABC and NBC spent on the IRS e-mail scandal combined on both their morning and evening news programs since the outrage surrounding lost emails of IRS employees, including former employee Lois Lerner, broke on June 13. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
A staple of establishment press reporting is to attribute a contention to a limited group of people to either place the truth of a statement into doubt, or to make it appear that only the group involved holds that opinion. Examples taking this to the absolute extreme could include: "Conervatives say the sun rises in the east and sets in the west," and "Republicans believe that abortion takes a human life."
Note that I didn't write that such extreme examples never occur in establishment press reporting. That's because they sometimes do, even to the point where the reporter(s) involved don't recognize how utterly ignorant and contradictory their content is. Take the following two bolded paragraphs from the Associated Press's terse, "Let's make this story look boring, and tell them as little as we possibly can" story about the National Organization for Marriage's court victory over the IRS in the release of its donor list (report produced in full because of its brevity, and for fair use and discussion purposes):
On Friday's Morning Joe program, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough complained about the absence of media attention to the fact that IRS commissioner John Koskinen, in charge of an organization currently embroiled in an investigation into whether it has unfairly targeted conservative groups during the Obama administration, is himself a "big Democratic donor" who has donated to President Barack Obama twice and, over the years, almost $100,000 to various Democrats.
Regular panel members Mark Halperin of Time magazine and John Heilemann of New York magazine joined in as Scarborough called out the New York Times in particular and imagined how the Times would have reacted if the roles had been reversed during the George W. Bush administration. Scarborough asked:
MRC president Brent Bozell appeared on The Kelly File on Fox News Channel on Thursday night to discuss the ongoing media effort to downplay or ignore Obama scandals.
Kelly began by showing video of the president claiming in Minneapolis that the scandals are fabricated: “Sometimes the news that's being reported on is really important. I mean what's happening in Iraq is relevant. But sometimes the news that's coming off, these are just Washington fights. They're fabricated issues, they're phony scandals that are generated. It's all geared towards the next election of ginning up a base.” Bozell called him shameless, and the most press-pampered president in history. (Video below)
NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams this morning refused to answer queries from Dan Joseph of our sister site MRCTV.org regarding the peacock network's lack of coverage of the ever-deepening IRS scandal, including Lois Lerner's missing emails. "I cover the Supreme Court. You're asking the wrong guy," Williams protested, insisting that while he "[has] a lot of power at NBC... deciding how much coverage" goes to stories not on Williams's beat "is not one of them." "I respect your question, but you're asking the wrong guy," he reiterated.
The Supreme Court, however, is just one part of Williams's beat. He also covers the U.S. Justice Department, which has thus far failed to start proceedings to prosecute Lois Lerner for contempt of Congress and whose department head, Attorney General Eric Holder, is resisting calls for a special prosecutor in the IRS scandal. To watch the full exchange, click play on the embed below the page break.
A new Fox News survey tested Team Obama’s credibility: "The Internal Revenue Service says that two years of emails from IRS employees about targeting conservative and tea party groups were accidentally destroyed because of a computer crash and cannot be recovered. Do you believe the IRS that the emails were destroyed accidentally or do you think they were destroyed deliberately?"
The answer: only 12 percent believe the lame “accidentally destroyed” thesis, and 76 percent picked “deliberately.” Asked if Congress should keep probing, 74 percent said yes. No one at the networks will be touching this poll, but James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal wondered:
[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.
Behold Stein's tweet, which, modified to defend the indefensible in the Obama administration, essentially goes like this: "See, Chris told his parents that the dog ate his homework. Doesn't that help prove that our dog might really have eaten my homework?" But instead of a dog, it's the big, bad IT monster which crashes computer hard drives (HT Twitchy):
Halfway through the Wednesday edition of her eponymous program this evening, CNN's Erin Burnett turned to her colleague Joe Johns for breaking news regarding a fresh development in the IRS scandal: email evidence suggesting Lois Lerner may have pushed for an audit of Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
Immediately afterwards, in a panel discussion, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin endorsed calls coming from Republicans for a special prosecutor to look into the IRS scandal.