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MSNBC's Hayes: GOP Pursuing 'Fake' 'Witch Hunt' on Benghazi and Over 'Big, Bad, Scary' IRS Scandal

Media Research CenterOn Friday's All In show, MSNBC host Chris Hayes began by recounting the news of the "big, bad, scary" scandal of President' Obama's IRS targeting conservative groups, but also chided Republicans for continuing to push Benghazi, which he referred to as a "witch hunt" and a "fake, ginned up scandal." After reading a quote from a Tea Party group which brought up Benghazi in reacting to the IRS scandal, Hayes continued:

They cannot help themselves. Even when they have real evidence of misdeeds and malfeasance, conservatives still want to change the subject to the fake, ginned up scandal they've been pushing month after month.

They've been given the thing that they clearly want, which is a big, bad, scary government scandal that everyone agrees -- myself included -- is genuinely outrageous, even worthy of further investigation, and their first instinct is to try to bring the conversation back to their favorite Benghazi conspiracy theories. Apparently, they've sunk so much effort into manufacturing Benghazi outrage, they are physically incapable of backing away from them.

He then added:

So now they're viewing an actual real world abuse of power scandal, not as its own outrage, but as a means of supporting their preexisting witch hunt on Benghazi, which they really struggled to turn into a scandal in large part because they themselves cannot seem to settle on what the scandal even is. It's a coverup. Just don't ask what's being covered up.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, May 10, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

But we begin tonight with evidence -- real, legitimate, concrete evidence -- of genuine abuse of power by the federal government that sounds like it was cooked up by Glenn Beck. I'm not kidding. If you sat down with Glenn Beck over a pot brownie and asked him which nefarious plots the government was up to, this item from today's actual news would probably be on the list.

Today, the IRS revealed that it targeted for extra scrutiny Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status. The admission and the apology came from the IRS official who heads up the agency's division on tax exempt groups during a conference today sponsored by the American Bar Association.(CLIP OF LOIS LERNER, IRS DIRECTOR OF EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS) That stark and damaging admission this morning was followed with a disasterous conference call with the press in which that same IRS official, who did I thought a very good job in that statement, declared, quote, "I'm not good at math."

Now, the be fair, the point she was trying to make is that, while she is a high-ranking IRS official, she is a lawyer and not an accountant. But, either way, it was an inauspicious capstone to an inauspicious day for the Obama administration's IRS targeting groups for extra scrutiny based on ideological trigger words in their names is truly scandalous. And I am standing before you today, as a big-time liberal, saying, "Not okay, guys, not okay."

And to be clear, the IRS insists these reviews were "not motivated by partisan concerns." The screening was "part of a broader review of political advocacy organizations" "seeking tax-exempt status" during a big post-Citizens United "proliferation" of those groups. And that's true. And I hope the IRS doesn't back off on scrutinizing 501C4's of all political stripes going forward.

But, at the end of the day, this is one of those real serious no no's in American life. In First Amendment jurisprudence jargon, it's what's called "viewpoint discrimination." And, as the ACLU correctly pointed out today, "Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets."

If we were watching the John McCain/Sarah Palin IRS target groups that had "occupy" in their names, anyone sitting here on this network would be raising hell, and rightly so.

For their part, the Tea Party Patriots, presumably one of the groups that could have been targeted, announced today they explicitly reject the IRS apology, they're demanding resignations and further investigation. Which is fine. It's totally reasonable to expect that from them, given the gravity of the news.

But my favorite quote of the day in reaction to this IRS scandal came from the rival Tea Party Express, telling Slate's Steve Weygul, quote, "Just like with Benghazi, the truth comes out after the election."

"Just like with Benghazi." They cannot help themselves. Even when they have real evidence of misdeeds and malfeasance, conservatives still want to change the subject to the fake, ginned up scandal they've been pushing month after month.

They've been given the thing that they clearly want, which is a big, bad, scary government scandal that everyone agrees -- myself included -- is genuinely outrageous, even worthy of further investigation, and their first instinct is to try to bring the conversation back to their favorite Benghazi conspiracy theories. Apparently, they've sunk so much effort into manufacturing Benghazi outrage, they are physically incapable of backing away from them.

So now they're viewing an actual real world abuse of power scandal, not as its own outrage, but as a means of supporting their preexisting witch hunt on Benghazi, which they really struggled to turn into a scandal in large part because they themselves cannot seem to settle on what the scandal even is. It's a coverup. Just don't ask what's being covered up.

For example, today's edition of the pinball back and forth search for a narrative to the Benghazi scandal saw a renewed focus on the CIA talking points used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. The reason the right was once again going nuts over those talking points today, nearly eight months after the fact, is thanks to a new detail first reported today by ABC News that those talking points were revised 12 times and "extensively edited" before they landed on the Sunday shows. The edits were reportedly made with, quote, "extensive input from the State Department." And at least one of those edits was apparently designed to make it harder for members of Congress to, quote, "beat up the State Department."

In other words, some people working inside the government and in politics edited some talking points to protect themselves politically. And if that is a scandal in Washington, then every single Blackberry is a D.C. crime scene. It should not come as a surprise that Republicans are trying to drive the news cycle into a frenzy over the faux-scandal they've been trying to manufacture over these Benghazi talking points for months now. The real question is: Why are they making a bigger deal of their fake Benghazi scandal than they are over the very real scandal of the IRS admitting to having targeted conservative groups.

And the answer to that question is very telling. The IRS scandal is an Obama administration scandal, one that's centered around our current President. The scandal they're trying to create around Benghazi, they consider that scandal around the person threatening to become the next Democratic President. Rand Paul tweeting this morning, quote, "Benghazi proves that Hillary Clinton should never hold high office again." Rand Paul doing that thing where he accidentally states out loud the subtext for the whole affair. This is a forward-thinking fake scandal. That's why Republicans are so attached to it.

The fact that Republicans cannot seem to find a genuine scandal in the Benghazi attacks is not going to stop them from trying, not as long as they see it as a potential weapon to be used against Hillary Clinton.

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center