MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: Who is Getting ‘Thrown in Jail’ Over IRS Scandal?

As we’ve noted here at NewsBusters, the liberal media have remained virtually silent on new reports of years and years of emails being lost from Lois Lerner and other IRS employees. So it was refreshing that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough spent some time on his June 18 Morning Joe program to briefly discuss the new developments.

Reactions to the news from USA Today that there were “seven hard drive crashes, no centralized archive, and a regular practice of reusing and erasing backup tapes every six months” were met with mockery from many on the panel. Unsurprisingly, the moderately-conservative host and former GOP congressman Scarborough was most appalled [MP3 audio here; video below]:

If we're being audited and we say we lost all this and there's suspicious behavior, what happens to us around this table? We get thrown in jail. So my question is, who is going to get thrown in jail for this?

Former Obama administration car czar Steven Rattner – who was banned from Wall Street for financial misdealings – came to the defense of the IRS, noting: "The point is we use the word lost like you lost your homework. This is a policy. They had a policy of not retaining these e-mails past six months.” This point was met with skepticism from former Bush administration staffer Nicole Wallace, who insisted that “hard drives are not the only way to retain emails."

Scarborough contended earlier in the segment that losing track of emails seems to be a common theme for some on the Left:

I've never heard of anything like this before, except when Al Gore lost a lot of his e-mails right before his presidential campaign. Democrats are not really good with e-mails. Especially when investigations are on the way. I don’t know what the deal is.

Coverage of the IRS scandal from the major networks has ranged from sparse to nonexistent; updates like this from cable news is a welcome change, even if Morning Joe is the only island of coverage you’ll witness in the sea of Obama-mania that is the Lean Forward network.

A relevant portion of the transcript is below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
June 18, 2014
6:04 a.m. Eastern

JOE SCARBOROUGH, host: How the IRS managed to lose–I lost all information over the past five or six years. There is an explanation. They are in the middle of a political investigation.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, host: It would cost $10 million to have e-mail systems that actually save more than a certain amount at a time.         

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, this is ridiculous.

STEPHEN RATTNER, former Obama administration staffer: They didn't have a full e-mail retention system.

SCARBOROUGH: Come on? Are you really believing this? Do you believe this? Do you really believe this?

RATTNER: I believe everything I read in The New York Times.

SCARBOROUGH: Do you believe Lois Lerner, her e-mails would magically just disappear?

RATTNER: They apparently had a system in which you could only retain a certain amount of e-mails in your computer and that was it.

BRZEZINSKI: I think it's very possible.

SCARBORUGH: I think that’s absolutely ridiculous. Everybody–

NICOLE WALLACE, political commentator: I have a Yahoo! Account that has every e-mail I've ever sent.

SCARBOROUGH: This is nonsense. Everybody around this table–no, no, no come on this is nonsense– everybody around this table could go back and find e-mails. I use Mac. My e-mail address is mac.com. I can go back to 2009, 2008. I could go right here, do a quick search.

WALLACE: If you spill the soda on your computer. Emails are forever.

SCARBOROUGH: These are forever. This is complete, utter nonsense.

THOMAS ROBERTS, host of Way Too Early: Don't the people at the IRS have any buddies at the NSA and they can go to that pit in Bluffsdale, Utah and they can dig some of these out. Don't you think the NSA has Lois’s e-mails.

BRZEZINSKI: USA Today reports there were actually seven hard drive crashes, no centralized archive, and a regular practice of reusing and erasing backup tapes every six months.

SCARBOROUGH: No, no , no. This is ridiculous. I’ve never heard this in my life.

BRZEZINSKI: The report also says employees made their own decisions as to which e-mails would be part of the official agency record. You know what, you [Thomas Roberts] brought up the best point on Way Too Early this morning. He said I wish the IRS was as good with us as we are apparently with them, with their receipts and e-mails.

SCARBOROUGH: We're not going to be good with them on this. One of the most important people in the agency. I've never heard of anything like this before, except when Al Gore lost a lot of his e-mails right before his presidential campaign. Democrats are not really good with e-mails. Especially when investigations are on the way. I don’t know what the deal is.
    
BRZEZINSKI: It doesn’t look good.

SCARBOROUGH: It doesn’t look good for the IRS either. Forget the political implications. Also for the IRS itself, they demand so much from us and they can't even retain e-mails for a couple years for one of the most important figures who is now in the middle of the largest IRS scandal they’ve faced in decades.

WALLACE:The very agency that means you stuff your wallet with all your tiny little tax receipts, tape them on a piece of paper and scan them in case you're audited you actually have the receipts. That’s the agency that lost every single email. I don't buy it.

SCARBOROUGH: If we're being audited and we say we lost all this and there's suspicious behavior, what happens to us around this table? We get thrown in jail. So my question is, who is going to get thrown in jail for this?

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my goodness.

SCARBOROUGH: What do you mean oh my goodness? I guarantee if you didn't have receipts and you were in the middle of a suspicious investigation launched by the IRS and they’re coming after you and you go, my hard drive crashed, I don’t have that information, you’re in jail.

BRZEZINSKI: Why would it cost them $10 million to be able to retain a certain amount of e-mails in this day and age? I don't get that.

RATTNER:Well I think you need, but look. The point is we use the word lost like you lost your homework. This is a policy. They had a policy of not retaining these e-mails past six months.

WALLACE: Hard drives are not the only way to retain emails. I mean campaigns retain e-mails in hard copy. Before we had big fancy servers–

RATTNER: In fact, they have gone to people Lois Lerner was e-mailing with to see what they archived and retrieve what–look, I'm not here to defend them, I’m here to say we don’t know all the facts.
 

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.