At this point it might take a dead body to get the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks to give the IRS-Tea Party scandal any sort of real coverage. Huge developments in the last week – like IRS official Lois Lerner receiving a criminal referral from the House Ways and Means Committee and e-mails proving she fed tax information on a targeted group to the staff of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) – were completely censored by ABC and NBC news. Only a 90 second report on Thursday’s CBS This Morning kept last week’s revelations from being totally blacked out on the Big Three networks.
In the last seven days the following IRS scandal developments have emerged:
■ The House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner for criminal charges.
■ E-mails proved Lerner fed tax information to Cummings’s office about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote.
■ E-mails showed Lerner talked about taking a job with Barack Obama’s advocacy group Organizing for Action - while she was investigating non-profit applicants.
■ A Dallas IRS office was found to be covered with Vote for Obama stickers and engaged in campaign cheerleading. An IRS employee in Kentucky was suspended because he told a taxpayer that Republicans were “going to take women back 40 years...if you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer.”
■ A new report confirmed Tea Party groups were targeted 100 percent of the time and that subsequent attempts to make the review seem more neutral, by adding some liberal groups that were looked at, were merely cosmetic changes.
Yet, not one second of ABC or NBC airtime was devoted to any of these major developments. In fact only CBS, in a 90 second story on Thursday’s This Morning, covered the Lerner criminal referral and charges of IRS offices campaigning for Obama. Neither CBS, nor any of the other network evening or morning shows covered the other revelations.
It’s not as if the networks didn’t have a built-in excuse to cover the latest IRS scandal developments with Tax Day approaching. ABC’s David Kerley brought on IRS commissioner John Koskinen on Friday’s World News to discuss long wait times on the agency’s help line, but didn’t ask a question about the scandal. On Monday, all three network morning shows found time to worry about IRS budget cuts meaning fewer audits and longer wait times for taxpayer assistance, but not one mentioned the ongoing scandal embroiling the agency.
The Big Three network Sunday roundtable shows, that traditionally wrap-up the previous week’s big political stories, also ignored the IRS developments. CBS’s Bob Schieffer, despite having Cummings on Sunday’s Face the Nation, never brought up the damaging e-mails that refuted the Maryland Democrat’s February 6 hearing denials that his staff ever contacted the IRS about True the Vote.
The one Sunday show to cover the numerous IRS scandal developments was Fox News Sunday. When host Chris Wallace pressed the Associated Press’s Julie Pace to defend the overall lack of IRS scandal coverage Pace responded: “We don’t have a lot to work with.” That stunning display of deliberate ignorance would be something the producers and reporters at the Big Three network reporters would be proud of.
Fox News contributor Brit Hume probably put it best when he refuted Pace: “The same set of facts…would have touched off in previous days a media firestorm. What we had was kind of a campfire in most of the media, which was doused before very long, and the story has been basically dormant.”