After a month-and-a-half-long ongoing investigation into the IRS's targeting of conservatives, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Rep. Sander Levin released several of the agency's BOLO (Be On the Look Out) lists. Democrats said the BOLOs proved liberal groups were targeted in the same way conservative groups were.
I questioned the legitimacy of this conclusion because there were too many things that didn't add up and it seemed like too big of a leap. Anyone who has paid even fleeting attention to this scandal should understand that the BOLO list with conservative buzzwords is only the way these groups were separated, not the scandal itself. The scandal is the outrageous scrutiny they faced after being separated, such as when the IRS wanted to know the content of one group's prayers or made another group promise not to protest in front of Planned Parenthood.
Today, Inspector General J. Russell George responded to Levin's letter and utterly destroyed the idea that liberal groups faced the same scrutiny as conservative groups. As I reported earlier:
“Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” George said. On the other hand, “our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases.”
According to George, of the 14 applications that had the terms “progress” or “progressive” in their names between May 2010 and May 2012, none received additional scrutiny for being potential political cases and only 30 percent were processed as potential political cases.
But those pesky facts didn't stop the liberal blogosphere from using Levin's accusation as a chance to call conservatives crazy and mock Darrell Issa, who has pushed harder on this investigation than anybody else.
On Tuesday, the New Yorker published an article called "Darrell Issa and the Vanishing IRS Scandal," in which author John Cassidy said those, including himself, who called the targeting of conservatives a "non-scandal" were vindicated. "To get the real story," he wrote, "all you had to do was read what the I.R.S. told the Inspector General and listen to what people like [former IRS chief Steve] Miller were saying."
Salon, which has spent the past month and a half laughing at Issa rather than practicing real journalism, declared: "Darrell Issa's credibility is over."
"It seems this entire scandal exists because Issa skewed the outcome of the IG report by asking to keep it narrowly focused on conservative groups, then trumped up its findings’ charges and tried to keep exculpatory evidence out of the public eye," wrote Salon reporter Alex Seitz-Wald.
Again, whoops. This scandal exists because the IRS targeted conservative groups in ways it didn't target progressive ones, not because Darrell Issa made things up.
Another Salon article, this one titled "Issa saved by the news cycle," manages to find positive things to say about the IRS. "But it now sort of looks like the IRS was just doing its job," it says. "Doing it slowly, and at times aggravatingly, for people running nonprofits, but still doing what the agency is supposed to be doing."
Daily Kos published a piece titled "Here's how Darrell Issa manufactured the IRS 'scandal,'" which accuses Issa of fraud. "I think the most likely explanation here is that Issa was simply trying to cook up a scandal, even though it did nothing to address the genuine problems with the way campaign finance and tax laws are written," writes author Jed Lewison.
A Daily Beast article accused anybody who didn't think the BOLO list release disproved the entire scandal of being crazy:
So there goes that political conspiracy. Well, not to everyone--some people will no doubt just say "Ah, but you see, Obama, being the Manchurian that he is, was clever enough to instruct that some progressive groups be targeted, just enough to provide cover." This is insane, World Net Daily kind of stuff, but some will inevitably believe it.
Somehow they failed to even consider that liberals weren't targeted the way conservatives were, despite all of the evidence pointing to that exact conclusion. Nuance!
Maybe the most frustrating failure of all comes from Media Matters, a site the left looks to for political spin. Their post calls the scandal a scam, says Issa "took us for a ride," and accuses the right-wing media of having a "tendency to vastly overreach."
Pot? Meet kettle.