Chris Matthews: IRS Scandal Could Be ‘A Big Nothing Burger’
As was expected, the liberal media is moving into a new mode concerning the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service: Move along. Nothing to see here.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews did his part Monday in a lengthy segment teased by the Hardball host saying, “It could be this whole thing was a big nothing burger” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Coming up, what's really happening at the IRS office out there in Cincinnati? That old story’s getting new again. To hear some Republicans tell it, President Obama used the office to target his political enemies. But the man in charge of dealing with those non-profit groups for the IRS says now that the White House had nothing to do with it. And by the way, the guy’s a conservative Republican. He's the guy that was calling the shots. So it could be this whole thing was a big nothing burger.
After the commercial break, Matthews set out to prove it.
First he read from a partial transcript released by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Sunday, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, of testimony from an IRS manager in Cincinnati who’s supposedly a conservative Republican. Matthews also criticized Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of that committee, for “selectively disclosing” portions of interviews done with IRS employees.
Yet according to the Associated Press, that’s exactly what Cummings did Sunday (emphasis added) :
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released a partial transcript of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform interview with the unnamed manager in the IRS' Cincinnati office. In it, the employee said the extra scrutiny for tea party groups' tax exempt status was an effort to be consistent in reviewing applications and not driven by politics.
"He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way to what's showing that the White House was not involved in this," Cummings said [during an interview on CNN.]
Matthews then brought on Cummings – just Cummings, no one else – to present his case uncontested by anyone with an opposing view. It must be nice for Democrats to have a national television network that affords them such a thing.
After Cummings did the deed, Matthews said:
MATTHEWS: If you had to write a time capsule statement of what you know now Congressman as ranking member on that committee, the top Democrat, seems to me if you put together the wrong information in the IG report – which started this rigmarole - and you put together the evidence you got from this the transcript portion at least that says this was all self-energized, self-created the situation, nothing is here. No party politics. No clever stuff. No hanky panky if you will politically. It's just a couple of people or one guy even trying to find a way to get his job done quicker, to get it done more effectively. And that's the entire story.
Cummings agreed, “That is the entire story, Chris.”
Yet that’s not the entire story; even the AP realizes that:
Cummings and Issa have been releasing portions of interviews that back up their assertions. But neither has released full transcripts, making it difficult to discern a complete story. Also, the portions released tend to offer employees' views on what was happening, not definitive orders that directed them to scrutinize closely tea party applications.
Cummings declined to release the full transcript of the interview he posted on Democrats' oversight website.
As such, until we see the full transcripts of all these interviews, we don’t know the “entire story” no matter what Chris Matthews says