The president is either moping or muttering defensively about the abuses by the IRS and the tragedy of Benghazi. And to mollify the media about the alleged overreach of capturing the AP's phone records, he has offered to promote a legal shield for the media. As I see it, if he wakes up tomorrow and is willing to speak up, there are a few things he could fairly state.
First, any suggestion that "the IRS" went after the Tea Party are bogus. The IRS has hundreds of offices, with branches in all fifty states and in scores of cities. Only one of them, in one city (the Cincinnati office), is charged with having targeted the Tea Party and other conservative groups. Moreover, the screening began in the spring of 2010 when that IRS office and others were flooded with applications for tax exempt status from these groups. There was not such flood from the left. Further, the IRS office in Cincinnati was understaffed -- because Congress had not provided the IRS with sufficient funds to properly staff it. And the Cincinnati branch's focus on the new applicants seems to be particularly justified given that some of the groups that came under scrutiny considered the federal income tax, administered by the IRS, to be unconstitutional. As to the question of when the White House first heard about what was going on, this is the wrong question. Rather, the important question is when the investigation conducted by the Inspector General was concluded, which was last Wednesday, May 15. Any White House action before this would have been fairly criticized as interfering in the investigation. Next question.
As far as the Associated Press is concerned, the press claims the authorities need not worry because the media has been acting responsibly and publishing only news that -- in the judgment of its editors -- is safe to publish. Such claims disregard that more and more the media -- including the various blogs -- show very few signs of editorial responsibility. To remind: after the Boston bombing CNN and the New York Post published names and pictures of alleged bombers that turned out to be innocent people. As we know from the case of Richard Jewell, who was wrongly suspected of setting off a bomb during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and whose name was leaked to the media, false reports can cause a great deal of harm even if corrections are later published. Irresponsible reporting can be even more damaging when it outs undercover operatives. In 1975, for example, a newspaper published the names of dozens of active CIA officers, and shortly thereafter, an agent stationed in Athens was shot dead.Read the rest here.