IRS Conservative Group Targeting Does Not Validate Right-Wing Narratives

Conservatives have exploited the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi to advance their Obama administration witch-hunt. I’m not here to say there should be no accountability, and that nothing was done wrong, but Fox News, Republicans, and right-wing talk show hosts constructed their narrative without a shred of evidence. Benghazi wreaks of fake outrage and manufactured scandal.

Internal Revenue Service - photo by Alyson HurtOn the other hand, this week’s Internal Revenue Service scandal offers conservatives something tangible. The IRS targeted conservative political groups. No need to manufacture that fake outrage. There is actual wrongdoing here.

The New York Times — [T]he agency singled out dozens of Tea Party-inspired groups that had applied for I.R.S. recognition, officials acknowledged on Friday, subjecting them to rounds of detailed questioning about their political activities. None of those groups were big spenders on political advertising; most were local Tea Party organizations with shoestring budgets.

It could be easy for liberals to look the other way on this, but that would be a mistake. And it does seem this is getting plenty of attention across the media landscape, liberal or conservative. But liberal media sources are taking a slightly different approach than say, Fox News, in covering this story. For liberals, the focus is as much on political groups masquerading as “social welfare” groups as it is on the scandal itself, that the IRS improperly targeted right-leaning groups. And that’s fine. These groups are not social welfare groups, and it’s questionable if they should receive tax-exempt status. But if the tax code allows for these groups to claim tax-exempt status, it must be applied with an even hand, without discrimination.

Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart’s segment on this story was a humorous acknowledgment that conservatives finally have a real scandal to confirm their anti-government ideology. But that’s all it was, a humorous segment on a comedy show. Because this story does not validate Benghazi. It does not validate anti-Obama rhetoric. It does not validate factually challenged claims against extended background checks. It does not validate falsehoods lobbed at the Affordable Care Act.

This IRS scandal does not corroborate the mountain of unsubstantiated claims and manufactured bullshit from right-wing media. While I share Jon Stewart’s frustration, I’m not going to dwell on the fact that conservative pundits will use this scandal as their smoking gun. To concern myself with it would only serve as a non-consenting endorsement of their nonsense.

photo by Alyson Hurt


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