"Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups --- and political intimidation --- in this administration," declared the opportunistic Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee during a hearing today on the "scandal" related to the IRS use of Rightwing words such as "Tea Party" to help identify groups applying for tax-exempt status which might be operating in violation of the tax code.
The key phrase there is: "Listening to the nightly news..."
Rep. David Camp (R-MI) was correct in at least that part of his statement. If you listened to the way this supposed "scandal" is being reported by the bulk of the corporate media, you'd think the poorly chosen criteria used by low-level IRS officials in trying to identify taxpayer-subsidized organizations that might be carrying out political operations in violation of the law, was part of a "culture of cover-up" and "political intimidation" on par with Richard Nixon ordering his Dept. of Justice to target political enemies.
Then again, if you listened only to the corporate media, you --- like the Obama Administration --- also probably thought that the phony, trumped-up "scandals" that led to the inappropriate firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, the cowardly firing of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and the outrageous federal defunding of ACORN were also the unhappy result of an endemic culture of corruption by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party and its insidious political apparatchiks.
Those fake scandals, however, all three of them, were shams. They were eventually identified as such, though only after a great deal of harm to Sherrod, Jones and ACORN had already been done by the Democrats who fell for them and acted out of knee-jerk and cowardly fear to try and contain the perception of "scandal" which was, naturally, helped along by the very loud misreporting of "the nightly news".
The supposed IRS "scandal", as we detailed yesterday both here at The BRAD BLOG and at Salon --- after having bothered to actually read the full Treasury Department Inspector General's report [PDF] before reporting on it (didn't anybody else?!) --- appears almost as phony as those other three "scandals", despite the "outrage" over seemingly non-existent "misconduct", as Obama described it, by IRS employees.
Our general assessment --- based on the IG's findings --- that this "scandal" appears to be an enormous over-reaction to poorly thought out procedures and lousy management by low-level IRS officials, has been shored up since publishing our article yesterday, both by today's House hearings and by scattered media coverage elsewhere.
As usual, with these things, the Republicans cry "COVER-UP!", "OUTRAGE!", "SCANDAL!"; the corporate media credulously, unskeptically and dutifully reports it as such; the Obama Administration knee-jerks out of fear and starts firing people (like the Acting Commissioner of the IRS who wasn't even at the agency during the period in question) in hopes of showing how they are on top of things and will not tolerate such "outrages!"; and Republicans opportunistically use the entire matter to create a phony sense of partisanship, incompetence and tyranny (seemingly opposite notions, but never mind that) on the part of the Administration.
It works every time, it seems, since the very top-tier corporate media, as well as the Obama Administration, keep falling for it over and over and over again...