It's over. There's nothing left to see regarding the IRS Tea Party scandal. Well at least that was the opinion Rachel Maddow issued on her self-titled MSNBC show on Monday night.
Citing a November 2010 IRS document released by House Democrats, that listed "progressive" as one of the keywords agents should watch out for, Maddow claimed it proved the tax agency was "scrutinizing" groups "both on the conservative side and on the liberal side." Maddow then went on to boast: "Which means this whole thing is over now. Right?"
However, that argument is a red herring. As even the USA Today in the May 15 article headlined "IRS approved liberal groups while Tea Party in limbo" noted there was a clear discrepancy in how quickly the IRS approved Tea Party applications compared to liberal organizations:
In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked. That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months. In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.
The following is Maddow's full rant as aired on the June 24 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
RACHEL MADDOW: This is what a heavily redacted document looks like. Somebody sat at a desk all day and cloaked the heck out of about 80 percent of these documents with a Sharpie marker. There's enough not to see here that you'd be hard pressed to figure out what this document even is only looking at the un-redacted parts that you can still see. But this enormously redacted PDF document was released by the Democrats on the House Ways & Means committee today and it turns out it's kind of important. This is one of the Be On the Look Out lists that was apparently used be the Internal Revenue Service for evaluating applications of tax exempt groups.
It was just turned over to congressional investigators and, look, there seems to be a really important line here. Line 16 of this IRS BOLO, Be On the Look Out report from November 2010. The crucial un-redacted part here you see in the fine print, the keyword the agents are supposed to look for down there in the left? "Progressive."
Here's what IRS agents were supposed to be aware of: "Political activities. Common thread is the word 'progressive.' Activities appear to lean toward a new political party. Activities are partisan and appear as anti-Republican. You see references to 'blue' as being ‘progressive.' Applicants submit form 1023. Their 'progressive' activities appear to show that (c) (3) may not be an appropriate status."
Smoking gun, right? President Obama and the jack-booted accountants in his politburo were targeting liberals! Starving them out to tip the election, using their hand-picked Treasury thugs like a Soviet-made billy club to silence freedom loving blue progressive liberal types. Dasvidaniya Comrade Obama. We caught you now.
Or maybe the IRS inspector general should explain not disclosing, until now, that the IRS was scrutinizing tax avoiding political groups both on the conservative side and on the liberal side. Turns out it wasn't just Tea Party groups. It was also groups labeled progressive. Which means this whole thing is over now. Right? Maybe this whole thing is over now. I think maybe this thing is over now. What do you think?
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.