The bombshell revelation about the surging IRS scandal this week was that Lois Lerner’s emails – those described as lost forever by the federal agency – were in fact backed up.
But a report from the Media Research Center points out that the networks really didn’t appear to be paying attention.
The report from Deputy Research Director Geoffrey Dickens noted that not only did the networks not examine a long list of potential conflicts of interest, they didn’t even bother to report the “big revelations.”
“Big Three network coverage of these stunning developments through Wednesday morning? 0 seconds,” he wrote.
It was on Monday already that Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said a Justice Department attorney confirmed the long-sought emails from Lerner, a former executive for the IRS who repeatedly has refused to testify before Congress, do exist.
The emails concern Lerner’s time frame with the agency during which conservative and Christian organizations deliberately were targeted with what amounted to harassment – deliberate delays, additional paperwork and the type of invasive questions that demanded to know the content of people’s prayers.
The IRS even tried to force individuals to agree, for example, that they would never protest the Planned Parenthood abortion businesses.
The one reporter who did invade the sphere of news, MRS reported, was Sharyl Attkisson.
“Invited on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to discuss the revelations of a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyer confirming the existence of Lois Lerner’s ‘missing’ emails and the IRS’s destruction of her Blackberry (stories the networks through Wednesday morning have yet to touch) Attkisson also did a great job of explaining the conflict of interest going on at the DOJ,” the MRC reported.
“Attkisson told Dobbs that at the same time the DOJ was ‘defending the IRS in court in the civil case with Judicial Watch’ it was ‘also investigating the IRS. So at the same time it’s supposed to conduct a fair and impartial investigation on the one hand … it is defending the IRS in court on the other hand on the missing document cases. I think there is a potential appearance of a conflict of interest there.”
Dobbs, in his introduction, had explained that IRS attorneys said all government computer records are backed up, but they claimed the backup system was “too onerous” to hunt through to find those emails, which have been sought by Congress, among others, for months.
Attkisson addressed the potential conflicts of interest head-on, saying, “There are several players at the Justice Department who have alleged potential conflicts of interest in this investigation. In particular he, the man you mentioned, [Andrew] Strelka worked under Lois Lerner, maintained a relationship with her. There are emails produced by the House Oversight committee that show he thanked her for the help that she had given him in the time that he worked in her division and held her partly responsible for some of the success he had. He also, according to documents, was part of a discussion about focusing on tea party cases. So there, there are some email documents that lend to the idea that he could have been part of that scandal all together rather than somebody who should be part of the department investigating it. That’s the allegation from Republicans on House Oversight. They’ve once again asked Eric Holder of the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to get at this investigation rather than doing it himself to avoid this appearance of a conflict.”
She also noted IRS testimony before Congress already “has proven to be inaccurate on more than one occasion, including about these backup tapes.”