The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives


Remember the video of the guy in the “pimp costume” who got advice from ACORN employees on how to run his prostitution ring? Turns out the whole story was just a lie, a doctored-video smear job on an important organization. The guy never wore a “pimp costume” and the real, undoctored videos showed that ACORN employees did nothing wrong. But a lie travels around the world before the corporate media bothers to check the facts. The “news” media blasted the story everywhere, and Congress was so outraged they forced ACORN to close its doors. And here we are again.

The corporate media is blasting out the story that the IRS “targeted conservative groups.” Some in the media say there was “IRS harassment of conservative groups.” Some of the media are going so far as claiming that conservative groups were “audited.”

This story that is being repeated and treated as “true” is just not what happened at all. It is one more right-wing victimization fable, repeated endlessly until the public has no choice except to believe it.

Conservative Groups Were Not “Targeted,” “Singled Out” Or Anything ElseClick here to watch the video clip of this. It’s worth it.

And from Bloomberg reporting: IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

watch this clip from the most recent Saturday Night Live.)

What Did Happen?Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review that looked into the accusation that the IRS “targeted” tea party groups that were applying for special tax status for extra scrutiny. The report is not all that long. You should read it. (Apparently most the people you are hearing from in the media haven’t read it.)

According to the report, the swamped IRS group involved in this came up with ways – “criteria” – to identify groups that really needed to be checked further because it was possible they might be engaged in the kind of political activity that would exclude them from getting the special tax status. (The rules for what constitutes political activity that would keep a group for getting special tax status are, to say the least, not clear. See the P.S. below.) Some groups were chosen to receive the required scrutiny because they had “political-sounding” names. Some of the “political-sounding names” included the words “tea party.” Others included “We the People” and “Take Back the Country.” (The inspector general’s report does not disclose if or which other “political sounding names” were also used as criteria.)

And the other problem was that the scrutiny these groups received involved some “unnecessary, burdensome questions.”

That was the extent of the wrongdoing. At a time when they couldn’t give all applying groups the necessary scrutiny they used criteria that included the names of an applying group to decide if it would get the required scrutiny. And they asked “unnecessary, burdensome questions.” That’s it. That’s the whole thing.

Normally all groups applying for special tax status would and should all get looked at to see if they were really political groups. In this case no groups received any extra scrutiny as has been accused, instead many received less than usual. No group was “singled out” or “targeted” for extra scrutiny, instead they were not given the free pass others were getting because of the overload of applicants.

The IG report concluded that it was wrong to use a group’s name as a criteria to help determine if an applicant would be checked out at a time when there were so many applications that every group was not being checked out. (However, the IG report did say that most of the groups forwarded with this criteria in fact should have been forwarded.)

Again, that’s the wrongdoing that has triggered the absolute frenzy of outrage you are hearing from … everyone. They said it was silly to use a group’s name as criteria for deciding if they should be checked out thoroughly at a time when the IRS was too busy to thoroughly check all applications as they usually do. And they said groups filing for a special tax status but suspected of political activity were then asked “unnecessary, burdensome questions.”

And again, that’s it, That’s the whole “scandal.” That’s the whole “IRS harassing conservative groups.” That’s the whole “Obama the dictatorial tyrant going after his enemies” hissy-fit. (Pleasee read Digby’s The Art of the Hissy-Fit)

A Few Facts3 Groups Denied Break by I.R.S. Are Named . The three groups? Drum roll … “The I.R.S. denied tax exemption to the groups — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — because, the agency wrote in denial letters, they were set up specifically to cultivate Democratic candidates.”

Fact: The IRS commissioner in charge at the IRS at the time this happened was appointed President George W. Bush.

Fact: According to the inspector general’s report (p. 10) in the “majority of cases, we agreed that the applications submitted included indications of significant political campaign intervention.”

Other scandals?falsely reported that White House emails had “taken out” “all references to al Queda and all references to CIA warnings before the attack about the terror threat in Benghazi.” He said that these emails “show that many of these changes were directed by Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson …”

Click here to see the video of this report.

But a couple of days later CNN broke the news that the emails Karl used for his ABC report were edited by Republicans to make it appear they said these things. Parts of the edited emails Karl used were “inaccurate” and “invented” to make the administration and State Department look bad. (The word “fabricated” comes to mind.)

Next came a story that the Justice Department had looked at records of AP reporters to see who in the administration had leaked a story. The story was that an informer high up in al Queda in Yemen had delivered a new kind of bomb to target airliners, while the government was still analyzing how to detect it and the informer was still in Yemen. The Justice Department looked at call records – phone numbers only – to see if they could spot who had called AP. This became a “scandal” with accusations that the government was “wiretapping” reporters and “secretly monitoring” or “listening in” on their calls – with the “scandal” gaining traction with its conjunction with the “Benghazi scandal” story promoted by ABC.

Driving Right-Wing Themes Out To Wider Audiences

It is worth noting that Jonathan Karl is a graduate of a conservative-movement “media training” program, the Collegiate Network. The significance of this is explained by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), in A Right-Wing Mole at ABC News: Jonathan Karl and the success of the conservative media movement,

Document Draft Shows IRS Targeted Conservative Groups,” “IRS IG Report: Targeting Conservatives Began In 2010,” “IRS Scandal Spreads Wider Than Cincinnati Officers” and more such stories, usually with inflammatory headlines and sensationalist scandal-hyping story lines.

The Daou TriangleTHE TRIANGLE: Limits of Blog Power Daou described how “a triangle of blogs, media, and the political establishment” worked together to “generate the critical mass necessary to alter or create conventional wisdom.” “…it’s still the Russerts and Broders and Gergens and Finemans, the WSJ, WaPo and NYT editorial pages, the cable nets, Stewart and Letterman and Leno, and senior elected officials, who play a pivotal role in shaping people’s political views.”

Describing a triangle of “netroots + media + party establishment = CW,” (netroots = “the base” and CW means “conventional wisdom”), Daou explained how they work together,

How the Democratic establishment shunned the left, spawned the Tea Party and moved America right. From Daou’s follow-up piece,

IRS ‘Scandal’ Appears Nearly as Phony as Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, ACORN ‘Scandals’,

inappropriate firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, the cowardly firing of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and the outrageous federal defunding of ACORN were also the unhappy result of an endemic culture of corruption by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party and its insidious political apparatchiks.

Those fake scandals, however, all three of them, were shams. They were eventually identified as such, though only after a great deal of harm to Sherrod, Jones and ACORN had already been done by the Democrats who fell for them and acted out of knee-jerk and cowardly fear to try and contain the perception of “scandal” which was, naturally, helped along by the very loud misreporting of “the nightly news”.

A Teachable Momentthe IRS,

The statute line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>, or “interpretation” of the law: Section 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations states that an organization will be considered to be operated exclusively for social welfare purposes if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community, i.e. primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterments and social improvements.

Note the shift from “exclusively” to “primarily.” These words have VERY different meanings. While the law says these “social welfare” organizations cannot engage in what is called political intervention, the IRS “interprets” this to mean that up to 49 percent of their activity can.

Recently the New York Times explained some of the ambiguity this difference creates, in Uneven I.R.S. Scrutiny Seen in Political Spending by Big Tax-Exempt Groups,

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