By Arthur Alpert
You’ve probably noticed I shy away from writing about the major political parties. There are several reasons. One is my working premise that both parties respond to their corporate underwriters. And there’s a practical concern – were I to condemn Albuquerque Journal editors for tilting toward Party A, it might read as if I’m siding with Party B.
Yet I will risk being misunderstood here because there’s lots at stake in the Journal’s campaign to persuade readers there’s an IRS “scandal” involving discrimination against right-wing groups.
What’s at stake is not just journalistic malpractice but a dire civic problem. We’ll take them in order.
Of course, there could be such a scandal. Heck, it wouldn’t be the first time the IRS violated citizens’ rights. Thus far, however, I don’t know if it exists.
What I do know is the Journal isn‘t telling the whole story.
First, let’s recap recent campaign events. Journal editors ran a Victor Davis Hanson syndicated column Feb. 19 in which he stated the “scandal” allegations as fact and tied the IRS to George Orwell’s Big Brother.
Next, March 6, the editors ran a three-paragraph brief on A3 headlined “Ex-IRS boss takes 5th, again”, which reported as fact the IRS “improperly singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups.”
And March 9 they printed a George Will essay in which he accepted the “scandal” as fact and blamed the President for it.
It’s noteworthy that Hanson, Will and the Journal are relaying the House Committee leadership’s allegations and (perhaps) information from others allied with the leadership.
There’s nothing from the House minority. And nothing from journalists covering the story.
We’ll get to what reporters have unearthed, but first let’s consider the source of the IRS “scandal.”
He’s Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican whose past includes beating charges of grand theft auto and arson. For a glimpse into Issa’s criminal and political biography, and informed speculation on his role in harassing Barack Obama, see Ryan Lizza’s celebrated “Don’t look Back” in the January 24, 2011 New Yorker.
There’s been no questioning of Issa’s bona fides from Hanson, Will or the Journal.
Next, let’s look at what the IRS is accused of.