Lots of unfortunate truths in this CNN article:
Remember the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups?
It was the scandal du jour in Washington last month, now relegated to back-burner status after recent revelations of a vast government electronic surveillance apparatus created in the name of national security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. …
If the investigations [into the IRS] fail to find a political effort to suppress activities by conservatives, the scandal will likely die a slow bureaucratic death of piecemeal reports in coming months.
The NSA scandal has shoved the IRS scandal off the front pages, and it shouldn’t be that way. Our media is sprawling and pluralistic: perfectly capable of devoting substantial resources to both. But despite its size, the press tends to act less like a network of journalists dividing up concurrent stories, and more like a mindless herd of gazelles charging to the freshest breaking news item. Add in the fact that most reporters, being progressive, are more interested in covering civil liberties abuses than government attacks on conservatives, and you have good reason to believe that the press will let the IRS story fade away.
The IRS, the Treasury Department, and Eric Holder’s Justice Department—that unextinguishable lantern of good government—are all investigating the agency’s misconduct. That, of course, shouldn’t comfort anyone. Congressional Republicans are also on the case, including the pugnacious Rep. Darrell Issa. Issa has been masterful at keeping needed investigations alive in the ADD news cycle, most notably last year when he forced the media to pay attention to Fast and Furious for a few days. But even Issa can only do so much; the gunrunning scandal still hasn’t received the coverage it deserved.
But the IRS scandal is different—so different, in fact, that the term “IRS scandal” is almost a misnomer. This isn’t about just the IRS. The Department of Labor, the ATF, the FBI, and OSHA have all been credibly accused of auditing conservative groups for political reasons. The big picture is one of a government-wide attempt to bully an ideological movement it didn’t like. The NSA story is impactful too, but it’s more a matter of confirming what we already knew: Is there anyone out there who didn’t think the government was scanning call records or internet data? It’s still wrong and the NSA should still be investigated. But it shouldn’t detract from the breathtaking abuses of power committed against Tea Party groups.
That’s not to say that coverage of the IRS scandal has vanished completely. This story, which proves Washington IRS supervisors knew what was happening in Cincinatti, got a smattering of attention. That’s nice, but it deserves to be on the front page of every newspaper in the country—above the Supreme Court’s Arizona decision, and even above the 600th reprinting of that same picture of Edward Snowden.
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