Not that it absolves them from blame, but one contributor to the Big Three establishment TV networks' utter failure to report on or keep up with developments in the IRS targeting scandal -- failures which have been noted by Geoffrey Dickens at NewsBusters, as well as by the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell on Sean Hannity's TV show last night -- is the Associated Press.
The AP provides much of the raw material for the networks' stories and largely determines the nets' perception as to which stories are important. It is still quite appropriate to refer to it as the Administration's Press, even after Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder admitted to scouring phone records involving 20 business and personal lines used by over 100 AP reporters and editors in April and May of last year. Yesterday's failure by the wire service's Pete Yost to even mention that the IRS scandal was on the agenda at a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday involving FBI Director Robert Mueller exemplifies how negligent or intimidated (or both) the AP has become.
At the hearing, Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan asked Mueller a series of questions about his agency's investigation into IRS targeting. What he got in return was an embarrassing series of "I don't knows," "I can't talk about thats," and "I'll get back to yous." The AP's Pete Yost wrote up two significant items on the hearing (11:49 a.m.; 4:56 p.m.). There is not one word about Jordan's IRS-related exchange in either. There isn't even any mention of the IRS scandal's existence.
Fox News covered the IRS-related portion of the hearing (the AP is noted as having contributed to the story, but it seems clear from what I noted earlier that its contribution relates only to the portions of the Mueller hearing involving NSA surveillance covered later in Fox's story; bolds are mine):
The country’s top investigator seemed to be in the dark Thursday when pressed to provide details of the IRS investigation into the tax agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, seemed to rattle FBI Director Robert Mueller for not knowing the specifics surrounding the IRS probe.
“You’ve had a month now to investigate,” Jordan said. “This has been the biggest story in the country and you can’t even tell me who the lead investigator is. You can’t tell me the actions the inspector general took which are not typically how investigations are done. You can’t tell me if that’s appropriate or not. This is not speculation. This is what happened.”
Mueller repeatedly declined to answer Jordan’s questions, saying he couldn’t because the investigation was ongoing or that he’d have to get back to the lawmakers with answers.
When Jordan asked again,” Can you tell me who the lead investigator is?” Mueller responded, “Off the top of my head, no.”
The related video at the Fox News link is the one entitled "FBI director out of the loop on IRS investigation?" There's no need for the question mark.
Vince Coglianese at the Daily Caller answered one of the questions Mueller either couldn't or wouldn't answer when he reported Thursday evening that "There is no evidence that the FBI has contacted a single tea party group in its criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service, according to the groups the IRS abused."
It belabors the obvious to note that if a key official in a Republican or conservative administration were so thoroughly embarrassed at a congressional hearing and presented so little evidence of any meaningful investigative action in such an important matter, it would be major establishment press news, and people like the AP's Yost would be all over it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.