Over the weekend, the New York Times published an article asserting that some conservative groups targeted by the IRS deserved it.
The headline, “Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics” makes it sound like the only groups that were targeted were breaking the rules. Then they go on to cite several examples of groups that may have been engaging in too much political activity to be considered a 501(c)(4).
After the tax agency was denounced in recent weeks by President Obama, lawmakers and critics for what they described as improper scrutiny of at least 100 groups seeking I.R.S. recognition, The New York Times examined more than a dozen of the organizations.
This explanation is incredibly limited. In the past few weeks, the true depth of the scandal has been exposed. It wasn’t limited to a few lower-level employees in the Cincinnati office, which was the original story. It wasn’t even limited to the IRS. Conservative groups have said they were targeted by the Labor Department, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The idea that this targeting was limited to 100 groups and that many of them deserved it is outrageous. Did some groups participate in activities that should have disqualified them from 501(c)(4) status? Probably. And I’m sure the same abuses could be found with some liberal groups, too.
But the extent of the targeting is not reflected in the article. It makes it sound like these groups just had their applications pulled aside, which is absolutely false. No conservative organizations applying for 501(c)(4) status had their applications approved for 27 months—not one—while progressive groups participating in similar types of activities had their applications approved without trouble.
Liberals love to complain about a right-wing noise machine that adds no substance to the conversation. It’s clear from this article, though, that the New York Times needs to pay more attention to the reporting coming out of that “noise machine,” because it’s way behind on the facts.