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Helping The President Escape the IRS Scandal: The New York Times Shows The Way

Tuesday, May 14, 2013  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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Now comes the New York Times to try and help President Obama out of the scandal swamp into which his Administration has stumbled, the one marked “Benghazi, IRS, AP and EPA.”  (For some quick background on the latter, which has received the least attention, see the post below and my interview with Louisiana Senator David Vitter from Monday’s program.)

Before you read the article, be sure to focus on the key distinction between the abuse of power and the non-use of power, because the Times’ article conflates the two.

There is no defending the Obama Administrations abuse of the IRS’ power vis-a-vis conservative groups.  Not even the president is trying to defend it, merely deflect the scandal away from himself.

The Times’ report tries to muddy the waters by pointing to wholly unrelated complaints from left-wing groups that the IRS should have but didn’t investigate Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and a handful of other political action committees.  There is no predicate for launching such an investigation, no hint of wrongdoing, just some naked assertions by political operatives that investigations should have been launched. Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehead of Rhode Island is trying the same gambit, suggesting to Politico that the real scandal will make the IRS more timid in hunting for GOP wrongdoing.

The game here is to draw MSM into a different subject, away from the damning nature of the real IRS conduct and the culture of the Executive Branch that allowed such behavior to take root and grow without rebuke.

The Times’ piece is almost a parody.  Reporter Nicholas Confessore talks to a collection of left-wing activists from The Sunlight Foundation, Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 and they all intone about how the IRS needs to do more about 501(c)(4)s, and of course Rove’s group is at the top of the list though President Obama’s “Priorities USA” is also mentioned.

These complaints from the left are wholly speculative though.  No wrongdoing has been found and none is alleged.  The left would simply like its anti-First Amendment agenda advanced via the use of IRS power.

That the IRS did not do so is a good mark on the agency’s behalf.  What is amazing that as the biggest scandal in the agency’s life since Nixon unfolds, the Times finds a way to try and release chaff in the journalistic air instead of asking which groups were wrongfully singled out, by whom, and who knew.  As with Benghazi, the Times is gearing up to help in the misdirection.

It isn’t going to work. The Mail Online has the sort of article the Times should be running –an article detailing the harassment one conservative group received.  There may be scores and scores of such stories about to break.

“This is just getting started,” GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told Robert Costa yesterday. “Finally, people get it. This is a lot bigger than just one person. This a whole effort by the administration, across the board, to squelch their opponents, to shut them up, and, finally, they’ve done it in a way that will allow us to call attention to it nationwide.”

“[T]here is a pattern here,” the Wall Street Journal concludes in today’s editorial. “Oppose the Obama Administration or liberal priorities, and you too can become an IRS target.”

With Benghazi and the AP investigations just beginning, and the EPA’s conduct under the microscope, one can only wonder what November would have looked like if the MSM had done its job in 2012, as opposed to beginning it in 2013.

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