Those of us frustrated by the bias and bad reporting of broadcast media should remember just how big a role print (or cyberprint) outlets play in keeping falsehoods alive. Case in point: a tendentious piece today by Brian Beutler in The New Republic online, making a vain attempt to show that conservative suspicions about lost IRS emails is merely a "conspiracy theory."
Amidst the usual complement of misdirectional arguments, Beutler proffered this oft-repeated falsehood: "We know that the IRS identified and scrutinized political groups seeking non-profit status on a somewhat arbitrary, probably inappropriate basis, but that the criteria they used ensnared both liberal and conservative groups." And, later: "We know the IRS wasn't singling out conservative non-profits."
To put it kindly, this is bunkum. Of course the IRS was singling out conservative groups. Lois Lerner herself admitted as much in her original confirmation that mistakes had been made in the process. Don't believe it? Then why was the original Washington Post story on the scandal headlined "IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election"?The lead paragraph in that story by Zachary A. Goldfarb and Karen Tumulty was as follows: "The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized."
It's probably not worth it here to rehash all the proof that the targeting went massively in one direction. The House Oversight and Reform Committee already released a report completely obliterating liberal claims to the contrary. A great summary of that report, along with a link to it, comes from the site Yid with Lid.
As most concisely summed up there: "Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word 'progressive,' all of which were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays.... The IRS’s independent watchdog, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), confirms that the IRS treated conservative applicants differently from liberal groups. The inspector general, J. Russell George, wrote that while TIGTA found indications that the IRS had improperly identified Tea Party groups, it 'did not find evidence that the criteria [Democrats] identified, labeled ‘Progressives,’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited.' He concluded that TIGTA 'found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘Progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention. In fact The IRS approved every group with the word “progressive' in its name.(pp. 32-35)."
But who is a mere Inspector General when compared to the great wisdom of Brian Beutler?
The sad thing is that other media outlets will doubtless choose Beutler's unsourced assertions over the IG's official findings of fact.