Daily Beast Recruits Ex-NPR CEO to Stick Up for the IRS: 'Just Doing Its Job'

Tina Brown's Daily Beast knows how to rally around Obama and dismiss the IRS scandal. They posted an article headlined "Former NPR CEO Ken Stern: The IRS Had the Right Idea." In other words, State-Subsidized Media Vet Sounds Like State-Run Media.

Stern, dumped in 2008 after 18 months as NPR's CEO, argued the IRS is way too toothless with nonprofits: "In the haste to trigger the next administration-crippling 'gate,' these analyses have largely ignored one of the most surprising aspects of this entire episode — that the IRS was actually trying to do its job."

The folks that ran Newsweek into the ground think those crippling "Gates" should be saved until a Republican sneaks into the White House. Stern bizarrely declared that the Tea Party cannot be defined as a "social welfare" group, that it has baldly political and electoral goals..unlike the Sierra Club?

[I]t had good reason for doing so. As it has now been widely reported, the definition of “social welfare” organizations has historically meant civic leagues, employee organizations, or issue groups such as the Sierra Club, groups that have little in common with the plainly political and electoral goals of the Tea Party Movement and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS   

The fact that IRS staffers were willing to do more than look behind simple paper applications and test the veracity of claims is nothing more than government doing its job.

Stern is one of those lefties who think the IRS is much more essential after the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case complicated the consolidation of statist political power:

So good for the IRS for rousing itself from its long slumber.

Yes, they screwed up badly, maybe because their investigative skill set is so rusty from disuse. Their failure was not that they scrutinized too hard or too many, but that they scrutinized too few. If the IRS had more evenhandedly and more widely reviewed applications for 501(c)(4) status, this would have been a singularly worthwhile effort. Instead it has been a disaster for the IRS and the Obama administration. And there are implications here that extend beyond this specific case and beyond partisan politics.

In the best of all possible worlds, the congressional hearings, the very public resignations, and the ritual floggings on Meet the Press would encourage the IRS to continue to investigate thoroughly, but just in a more evenhanded fashion. It won’t work that way. The tax bureaucracy will become even more cautious, more reluctant to stick its neck out, more likely to rubber-stamp ever more applications—legitimate or not. That may be good for someone, but it will be bad for anyone who wants a well-regulated nonprofit field not pockmarked and diminished by fraudulent, miscategorized, and ineffective organizations.

This is overwrought. It's not the job of the IRS to judge or regulate which nonprofits are effective or ineffective. Judging from the IRS abuse of the Tea Party, the problem is hardly a lack of regulation or aggression.

[HT: Dan Gainor]

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