Only CBS Covers IRS Losing Two Years of Lois Lerner Emails

On Monday, only CBS This Morning reported Friday's stunning revelation that the IRS somehow lost two years worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the official at the center of the agency scandal in which conservative groups were unfairly targeted. At the top of the morning show, co-host Norah O'Donnell wondered: "How did the IRS lose emails in the scandal targeting conservatives after the government spent millions to back up data?" [Listen to the audio]

Introducing the later report, fellow co-host Charlie Rose noted: "The Washington Times says congressional Republicans are blasting the IRS for losing some of Lois Lerner's emails.... the controversy that started last year is erupting again." Correspondent Nancy Cordes reported: "Republican lawmakers, as you can imagine, are furious. They say the IRS has been promising to get them these emails for a year, and now suddenly says that Lois Lerner's computer crashed way back in 2011."

Neither NBC's Today nor ABC's Good Morning America bothered to cover the shocking development. However, both broadcasts did manage to find time for full reports on Britain's baby Prince George learning to walk.

On This Morning, Cordes cited the IRS's explanation of the mysterious loss of evidence:

The IRS has turned over some, but on Friday, in a letter to Congress, the IRS said it had determined "that Ms. Lerner's computer crashed in 2011," and that, "any of Ms. Lerner's email that was only stored on that computer's hard drive would have been lost"....House Government Oversight chairman Darrell Issa says the government spends millions every year to back up emails on servers, but the IRS says before May of 2013, "these backups were retained on tape for six months," and then got recycled.

Near the end of the segment, a clip played of Cordes asking Issa: "IRS says they've already turned over something like 67,000 emails to and from Lois Lerner. Isn't that enough?" Issa pushed back: "This is not about what you turn over. It is all about what you don't turn over."

Cordes then concluded her report with more IRS spin suggesting the congressional investigation of the scandal was just a waste of time and money: "The IRS argues 250 employees have been working to give congressional Republicans the material they want, a task that has consumed 120,000 work hours and has cost nearly $10 million."

Here is a full transcript of the June 16 This Morning coverage:

7:00 AM ET TEASE:

NORAH O'DONNELL: How did the IRS lose emails in the scandal targeting conservatives after the government spent millions to back up data?

7:19 AM ET TEASE:

O'DONNELL: Ahead on CBS This Morning, we're going to look at headlines from around the globe, including a new controversy for the IRS. Emails from the key figure in a major scandal just vanish.

7:33 AM ET SEGMENT:

CHARLIE ROSE: And the Washington Times says congressional Republicans are blasting the IRS for losing some of Lois Lerner's emails. Lerner's IRS unit investigated Tea Party supporters and other conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status. The agency admits those investigations should not have been done. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill, where the controversy that started last year is erupting again. Nancy, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Missing Emails; IRS: Computer Crash Erased Investigation Evidence]

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Charlie. Republican lawmakers, as you can imagine, are furious. They say the IRS has been promising to get them these emails for a year, and now suddenly says that Lois Lerner's computer crashed way back in 2011 [audio cut out].

LOIS LERNER [MAY 22, 2013]: I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter of this committee's meeting.

CORDES: Ever since Lois Learner first pled the Fifth in 2013, congressional Republicans have been pushing her superiors for all her emails dating back to 2009.

REP. JIM JORDAN [R-OH]: It's pretty simple, you go to her computer and you get her emails.

DANNY WERFEL [IRS COMMISSIONER]: It's not that simple.

JORDAN: Well, it shouldn't take three months.

CORDES: The IRS has turned over some, but on Friday, in a letter to Congress, the IRS said it had determined "that Ms. Lerner's computer crashed in 2011," and that, "any of Ms. Lerner's email that was only stored on that computer's hard drive would have been lost."

REP. DARRELL ISSA [R-CA]: You know, it's just not believable.

CORDES: House Government Oversight chairman Darrell Issa says the government spends millions every year to back up emails on servers, but the IRS says before May of 2013, "these backups were retained on tape for six months," and then got recycled.

ISSA: We have enough evidence of her wrongdoing that we want to review every email that she has sent or received. That's reasonable to do when you have someone who takes the Fifth.

CORDES: Issa has long suggested Lerner may have been encouraged by administration officials to hold up applications by Tea Party groups. Democrats say there's no evidence of that, which has led to some tense questions.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS [D-MD]: May I ask my question? May I make my statement?

ISSA: You're all free to leave, we've adjourned, but the gentleman may ask his question.

CORDES: Lerner retired last fall and in May the Republican-led House voted to hold her in contempt for repeatedly refusing to testify. [To Issa] IRS says they've already turned over something like 67,000 emails to and from Lois Lerner. Isn't that enough?

ISSA: This is not about what you turn over. It is all about what you don't turn over.

CORDES: The IRS argues 250 employees have been working to give congressional Republicans the material they want, a task that has consumed 120,000 work hours and has cost nearly $10 million. Norah.

O'DONNELL: Alright, Nancy, thank you.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.