Liberal PBS Analyst Mark Shields Talks Trash: Boehner Lawsuit Is 'Bogus,' Darrell Issa Is 'Out of Control' on IRS

In the Friday PBS NewsHour, anchor Judy Woodruff lamented the current impasse in Washington: "I don’t know what else to call it, war between congressional Republicans and the president."

She sounded shocked that Speaker John Boehner filed suit to protest the president's constant end-runs around Congress and legislating from the White House on Obamacare, immigration, and other issues. Shields called the suit "absolutely bogus" and compared it to impeaching Bill Clinton in 1998:

SHIELDS: I think, Judy, what struck me this week with the House suit, this is a week in which it was announced the worst possible economic news for the country and certainly politically for the Democrats. The economy shrank by 2.9 percent the first quarter. And what is the Republicans’ response? Is there an economic package? Do they want to talk about the economy?

No, we’re going to talk about an absolutely bogus suit that they’re going to bring against the president, which we know is going nowhere. And it just looks like John Boehner was feeling the pressure from the hard right of his own caucus: We have got to do something. We have tried the impeachment thing before some 16 years ago. That didn’t work in the second term of a president, so let’s do this.

That was much more overwrought than Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review (subbing for pseudo-conservative David Brooks), who made a calm, less aggressive answer:

PONNURU: Well, the lawsuit or the threatened lawsuit is about whether the president’s faithfully executing the laws as the Constitution says he’s supposed to. And a lot of congressional Republicans have been fuming at sort of an increasing volume over the last several months about how the administration has in their view rewritten the law on health care, rewritten the law on immigration and other matters.

The problem with the administration’s framing of this, this is just a partisan endeavor, you look at these Supreme Court decisions against the administration, saying the administration is overreaching, obviously, that is something that the Democratic appointees, the liberal justices, the Obama appointees are all agreeing Obama has overstepped.

Shields also talked trash when asked about the IRS scandal. Confronted with destroyed hard drives, Shields just doubled down on the apparent sainthood of IRS commissioner John Koskinen and suggested the investigating committees are "running amuck, " not the IRS:

JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask about another aspect of war going on between the Congress and the president, Mark, and that is the IRS. The commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen, has been called before Congress now a number of times just in the last few days. There’s questions about missing e-mails, hard drive computers by top ranking IRS officials that were destroyed, a lot of questions about what happened. How do you read this and where is it headed?


MARK SHIELDS: Full disclosure, John Koskinen has been someone I have known and respected for 35 years. And he’s taken on nothing but thankless assignments as a public servant, somebody who has done very well and could retire, play golf and play with his grandchildren.

Instead, he’s come back to answer this call, just as he did on Y2K, just as he did on the closing of the government in 1995. He’s just — deputy mayor of the District of Columbia, taken over Freddie Mac. He’s taken nothing but tough assignments.

And this one is probably the most thankless of all. IRS is unpopular. It’s unpopular across the board. They demand your records, and the idea that their records are missing is a storyline that is very difficult to defend.

But I see absolutely no connection. I have watched the hearings carefully. And I will say that I just think this is a case of a committee run amuck. I think Darrell Issa is truly out of control.

Trash-talking Mark Shields can't connect the IRS commissioner with IRS wrongdoing. But in the last administration, he could connect a mining accident that killed 12 miners in West Virginia to "Tom DeLay's America in action." The idea that PBS is a civil place doesn't extend to Shields, who throws his weight around on the NewsHour while Brooks routinely tries to agree with almost everything he says.

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