AP’s Julie Pace: Media Not Covering IRS Scandal Because ‘We Don't Have A Lot To Work With’

Last week, the House Oversight Committee asked the Justice Department to seek criminal charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner. Despite the newest revelations in the IRS scandal, the Associated Press’ Julie Pace attempted to excuse the lack of media coverage.

Appearing as a panelist on Fox News Sunday on April 13, Pace argued, “If you are going to keep the story going and you want to keep the investigation going, eventually there has to be some material there to work with. And we're in this period of time where we don't have a lot to work with.”

Pace seemed to be the only guest to downplay the seriousness of the IRS scandal, with Brit Hume complaining about the lack of media attention the story has received: 

What we had was kind of a campfire in most of the media, which was doused before very long and the story has been basically dormant. We at Fox News have continued to pursue it and some other media outlets have as well…There are minute details leaked, they get reported and the thing develops a life of its own and ultimately the combination of things, you know, brings the issue out and you get to the facts. It has not happened here. 

Conservative columnist George Will spoke of the IRS scandal using much stronger rhetoric, likening the scandal to Watergate:

It rises to that level because the Internal Revenue Service is the most intrusive and potentially the most punitive institution in the federal government and has been thoroughly politicized…In Texas and Kentucky and probably elsewhere, IRS employees have violated the Hatch Act by using federal resources for campaigning and obviously for Barack Obama. 

Journalist Bob Woodward expressed similar sentiments, and noted that:

There should be answers. It's quite correct. And for the president to take that position is very, very, very unusual and says there is not a smidgeon of evidence here. I mean clearly George has got a good list, I think actually there’s more. 

And there's a question and you're right, the IRS particularly this week, as we know will file our tax returns, has a big place in everyone's life and they have immense power. And the power of the federal government to come and say we're auditing you or we're going to do something to you.

It’s astonishing that a reporter like Julie Pace would claim that there has been no new information worthy of media scrutiny. Just in the past week the House officially asked Lois Lerner be charged with criminal activity and two IRS offices were found to have been placing President Obama campaign merchandise throught their building. Apparently the Associated Press doesn’t consider that “a lot to work with.” 

See relevant transcript below.


Fox 

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace 

April 12, 2014

9:34 a.m. Eastern

CHRIS WALLACE: George, I was struck a couple days ago on our sister broadcast Special Report when you said that there have been three great scandals over the last 40 years here in Washington. Watergate, Iran-Contra and IRS. A couple of questions. One, why do you think this rises to that level? And why do you think the investigation is still on? 

GEORGE WILL: The investigation, I’ll take the last one first, has stalled because the Justice Department has already leaked its conclusion, which is that no one would be prosecuted. It rises to that level because the Internal Revenue Service is the most intrusive and potentially the most punitive institution in the federal government and has been thoroughly politicized. Let me give you five things we know that she's done right now. She said the delay approving conservative groups is caused by a serious uptick in applications. The inspector general of the IRS says that is just not true. She said the Tea Party group was very dangerous. In Texas and Kentucky and probably elsewhere, IRS employees have violated the Hatch Act by using federal resources for campaigning and obviously for Barack Obama. 

WALLACE: Can we -- I just want to point that out because the office of special council came out this week with a report and they said, now, there weren't vast cases although in Dallas they were wearing campaign buttons and their screen savers said Obama and stuff like that. But there was at least one case where if you called the helpline this person would in effect tell you well you should vote for Obama not for the Republicans because they'll keep you in this mess. On the IRS helpline so go ahead with your recitation I’m sorry. 

WILL: Confidential taxpayer information of the organization the National Organization for Marriage was leaked to a rival group. And finally, when Senator Schumer and Durbin and others wore extorting the IRS to be more political in their application of views, she said, with regards to Crossroads GPS, the most important conservative group, “we are working on a denial of the application.” Not expediting, not coming to a quick conclusion but we’re working on denial of it. That's why this rises because as Bob Woodward remembers, the Watergate scandal was fundamentally, in the words of John Dean, using the machinery of the federal government to punish our enemies. 

WALLACE: All right, Mr. Woodward, you know something about scandals and investigating them. How serious is the IRS scandal and, you know, I think one of the key questions is does this really begin and end with a mid-level bureaucrat who we never heard of a year ago named Lois Lerner.

BOB WOODWARD: Well, there’s obviously something here. The question is does this committee know how to investigate? And they're worried about this one person who has invoked her Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions and you have congressmen on the committee going on saying we have evidence she's involved in criminal activity. I don't think you should cross that line. The second thing is there's always one person who's not going to talk. And when you conduct an investigation like this, I have not gone into the details. You need to find people who will talk. And there are always people who will do this. You know, we should dig into it. There should be answers. It's quite correct. And for the president to take that position is very, very, very unusual and say there is not a smidgeon of evidence here. I mean clearly George has got a good list, I think actually there’s more. And there's a question and you're right, the IRS particularly this week, as we know will file our tax returns, has a big place in everyone's life and they have immense power. And the power of the federal government to come and say we're auditing you or we're going to do something to you. I mean it's a ten-ton truck coming at you. It's the sort of thing that the leadership and in the White House should take a position. Look, we will not tolerate this.

BRIT HUME: Chris, the same set of facts that Bob and George have described would have touched off I think in previous days a media firestorm. What we had was kind of a campfire in most of the media, which was doused before very long, and the story has been basically dormant. We at Fox News have continued to pursue it and some other media outlets have as well. But when that kind of firestorm occurs, it creates an atmosphere in Washington where for the administration with a message to try to promote day-by-day, you can't get it out. You can get nothing out. We can all remember what it was like. And that creates a hothouse sort of atmosphere in which all investigations end up being accelerated. There are minute details leaked, they get reported and the thing develops a life of its own and ultimately the combination of things, you know, brings the issue out and you get to the facts. It has not happened here. 

WALLACE: Let me bring Julie in an we got to move on after this. You're the chief AP reporter and correspondent at the White House. And I think it's fair to say there was a storm of interest and then it faded. Why

JULIE PACE: Well, I think part of it has to do with the fact that the amount of information that we've been getting on it has run out. There has been so much focus on Lois Lerner and she's not talking so you're in this period of time, I say this about a lot of congressional investigations, that if you are going to keep the story going and you want to keep the investigation going, eventually there has to be some material there to work with. And we're in this period of time where we don't have a lot to work with.

WOODWARD: They need to be non-partisan. I mean this really should have gone to joint committee. If you look at Congress--they don't know how to investigate.

HUME: I agree with that, Bob. I don't think if you look back at these investigations when Republican presidents were in the White House that you could say that those investigations were particularly nonpartisan. Partisanship is a part of it. You can't take the politics out of politics.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.