Fox News Lies: Agent Did Not Confirm That IRS Is Still Targeting Tea Party

A little over a week ago the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by uber-rightist Republican Dave Camp, held a closed-door hearing wherein they interviewed an anonymous IRS agent. Immediately afterward they broke for recess and left town. Now, a week later, and still on vacation, Camp released a smidgen of the transcript from that interview and declared the testimony “outrageous.”

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Committee: I am asking this currently, if today if a Tea Party case, a group — a case from a Tea Party group came in to your desk, you reviewed the file and there was no evidence of political activity, would you potentially approve that case?

IRS agent: At this point I would send it to secondary screening, political advocacy.

Committee: So you would treat a Tea Party group as a political advocacy case even if there was no evidence of political activity on the application. Is that right?

IRS agent: Based on my current manager’s direction, uh-huh.

Fox News, the PR arm of the GOP, predictably advanced the Republican distortion of the testimony to further inflame the phony IRS “scandal” theme that the Tea Party is still being targeted. However, before any logical characterization of this brief exchange can be made, it needs to be pointed out that Republicans have previously provided severely biased excerpts from hearing transcripts and research. They carefully redacted any information that contradicted their allegations. For instance, they deliberately withheld testimony that cleared upper-level managers of having any part in the decisions to scrutinize applications for tax exemption. They also failed to disclose that their inquiries to the Inspector General’s office specifically directed them to research only Tea Party or conservative applications. That’s why the IG didn’t find any progressive organizations at first. They were told not to look for them.

So until the entire transcript is released, it is fair to assume that the Republicans are selectively revealing only information that supports their false allegations. That’s how they’ve done it in the past and there is no reason to suspect that they’ve changed.

That said, the snippet of testimony they did release doesn’t even confirm their accusation that the IRS is still targeting conservatives. The anonymous agent was only asked what he would do if he received a Tea Party application. He answered that he would “send it to secondary screening.” That’s precisely what should be done for an application from an overtly political group. Notice that, at least in this excerpt, he was not asked what he would do with an application from a progressive group. If his answer to such a question is that he would also send that to a secondary screening, then there is no targeting going on. All political groups would be receiving the same scrutiny, which is how it ought to be.

When Camp was interviewed today by Neil Cavuto of Fox News, the story was presented as a confirmation of the IRS agent’s assertion that the Tea Party is still being targeted, but, as described above, there is no evidence of that in the portion of the agent’s testimony that was released. And without the missing portion of the transcript it’s impossible to make any rational analysis. But that has never stopped Fox before. Irrational analyses of incomplete data are one of their favorite tactics to advance right-wing disinformation.


4 thoughts on “Fox News Lies: Agent Did Not Confirm That IRS Is Still Targeting Tea Party

  1. Of course, it’s perfectly fine for the Lord Emperor Cheney to target Democrats and other enemies of the state using phone company records. Just wanted to make that clear…

  2. Look, I don’t see the problem with the IRS investigating applications for tax exempt status from groups that label themselves to be “Tea Party”. The Tea Party is a POLITICAL organization, and as such *should* be denied tax exempt status.

    • The point is that, if the Republicans do it, it’s all peaches and ice cream. If the Democrats do it, they’re the spawn of Satan and they must be suppressed immediately and how dare you accuse Republicans of committing this dastardly crime. Must be a wonderful thing being a hypocrite…

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