A new congressional report on the IRS persecution of conservative groups in the run-up to the 2012 election? Nothing to see here, the New York Times' headline blared. Both the paper's headline writer and reporter David Joachim set the bar sky-high for anti-Obama scandal, using the evident lack of a smoking gun linking IRS persecution to the White House as an excuse to completely dismiss the scandal in a rather brief story, no matter what "strident" Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican who chaired the hearings, might think. The Washington Post was little better.
Joachim's story was buried on page A13 of Wednesday's Christmas Eve edition of the Times: "Inquiry Into I.R.S. Lapses Shows No Links to White House."
An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.
The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that the errors were not motivated by partisanship.
Republican lawmakers, dismissing the Obama administration’s denials, have suggested that the delays were not only politically motivated but also orchestrated by the White House.
Some of the most strident comments have come from Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California and the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has issued subpoenas to compel testimony from administration officials and held a series of tumultuous hearings on the I.R.S. scandal.
Mr. Issa, who is stepping down from the chairmanship, has accused the I.R.S. commissioner of engaging in a Watergate-style cover-up and accused administration officials of obstructing his investigation.
In a parting shot, Mr. Issa released the 226-page summary of the panel’s findings on Tuesday. It said that language used in emails collected by the committee suggested that I.R.S. officials in the tax-exemption unit were trying to find ways to penalize groups they disliked.
In one email, for example, an I.R.S. official said of a conservative group, “I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” adding, “This sounds like a bad org,” and “This org gives me an icky feeling.”
Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, who has compared the inquiry about the I.R.S. to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s investigation of suspected Communists in the 1950s, was sharply critical of the report.
“It is revealing that the Republicans -- yet again -- are leaking cherry-picked excerpts of documents to support their preconceived political narrative,” Mr. Cummings said, “without allowing committee members to even see their conclusions or vote on them first.”
An MRC study showed the Times doing its level best to ignore the IRS scandal.
The Washington Post was little better, with reporters Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin also concluding with that same dismissive quote from Democrat Rep. Cummings, with a headline that emphasized the partisan nature of the report, while at least noting the report was damaging to Obama's IRS administration, if not the White House itself: "House GOP leader’s final report on IRS targeting accuses agency of ‘culture of bias.’"
The Daily Signal reported out details from the House report that the Post and Times skipped, including this:
The nation’s tax chief decided not to tell Congress that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, an action that would have brought to light the misconduct before the 2012 election, according to a new report from a House oversight panel.