The IRS Scandal- Why it was a Friday News Dump

Update- This just keeps getting better and better. The IRS Chief Counsel knew. And not just “tea party” was a code word:

Among the other revelations, on Aug. 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says. (emphasis mine-XBrad.)

Got that? If you form a non-profit to teach the public about their Constitution and Bill of Rights, you deserve a colonoscopy from the IRS.  One certainly wonders of maybe the IRS also asked for similar supporting documentation from that bastion of the right wing, The ACLU, long famous for education people about the Bill of Rights. I’m not holding my breath.

Original post below:

So, when news broke yesterday that “low level” IRS employees had targeted conservative, tea party type organizations applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, my question was, why did anyone in the IRS apologize? Normally, the scandal routine is a media report, followed by an agency response. In this case, seemingly out of the blue, the IRS apologized for this illegal behavior. Why?

Today, the other shoe drops. Not surprisingly, “low level” employees in this case is a synonym for senior IRS officials.

A federal watchdog’s upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011.

The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted.

On Friday, the IRS apologized for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if those groups were violating their tax-exempt status.

The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.

The Friday news dump was an “inoculation,” if you will.  Rather than letting the soon to be released report hit the wires cold, now administration officials can begin the “it’s old news” spin. Further, many people who only pay passing attention will remember the bogus Friday claim of “mistakes, but no malice” by “low level employees” and not bother to learn that senior officials were aware of the IRS targeting political opponents of the current administration. Don’t forget, when these groups first complained of the extraordinarily intrusive questionnaires were sent to these groups, the IRS flatly denied they were being targeted, or otherwise subjected to a level of scrutiny beyond the norm.

In the past, this administration has had remarkable success with this technique with the willing, eager aid of the media. I suspect there will be furious attempts by many members of the press to continue that trend.

But within just the last few days, we’ve started to see a few cracks in the media/White House wall of solidarity. The congressional hearing by whistleblowers on Benghazi has been the prime example, of course, with the media finally beginning to ask questions other than the fluffiest of fluff.

And while the vast majority of the media are ideological fellow travelers of the administration, they’ve also been subject to shoddy and condescending treatment by an administration that has been bent on controlling every aspect of the news cycle. Even the most mild criticism of the White House has lead to withering condemnation, threats to withhold access, freeze out sources, and otherwise punish any and all who stray from the message the White House alone sets. Understandably, a few reporters are starting to chafe. We’ll see if that may be enough to convince them to actually do their jobs.