Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.
You can be forgiven if you somehow missed this story, though it is obviously alarming, newsworthy, and possibly sinister. Many in the mainstream media have gone out of its way to ignore it. Yet this is likely or certainly possible spoliation, the illegal destruction of documentary evidence during litigation or an official investigation, which the House inquiry into the IRS’s irregularities regarding the approval of conservative groups prior to the 2012 election certainly is. If a private company “lost” key and potentially incriminating evidence like this, indictments would follow. (RIP: Arthur Andersen) Recall, please, that Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination—her right, but hardly cooperative or comforting. This news is even less so.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) added, “In the course of the Committee’s investigation, the Administration repeatedly claimed we were getting access to all relevant IRS documents. Only now – thirteen months into the investigation – the IRS reveals that key emails from the time of the targeting have been lost. And they bury that fact deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon. In that same letter, they urge Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing. This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgen of corruption what is the Administration hiding?”
And yet, The New York Times decided that this wasn’t “news fit to print” anywhere. Roger Kimbell marvels:
…[T]he New York Times today devotes zero words to the story. Take a look at the front page here: Nothing. There are a couple of articles about Iraq’s descent into chaos—Iraq, the country whose transformation Joe Biden, in 2010, called one of the “greatest achievements” of the Obama administration. “I’ve been there 17 times now,” the vice president told Larry King. “I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.” But I digress . . .
What else do we have on the front page? Warnings about a connection between obesity and liver disease. Something about the tea party in the aftermath of David Brat’s upset victory in Virginia and a story about restauranteurs upset by apps bypassing maitre d’s in securing good tables at posh eateries. The public has a right to know these things. There is also advance word about a coming article about the entertainer “Beyoncé the Boundless” (they teach alliteration in J school), the soccer games in Brazil, and sundry other topics.
What about the missing emails? Nary a word on the front page. Or the next page. Or the next or the next. The editorial page has a stern piece about “The Soros Cycle of Endless Cash”—oh, wait, no, it’s not about the left-wing billionaire George Soros. My mistake. What he does with his money is his business. It’s about—can you guess?—yes! The Koch brothers, the men the Times just loves to hate. But about the missing emails in one of the most disgusting political scandals in recent times, the deployment of the IRS with its virtually unlimited powers, against political opponents of the administration? Nothing. Nada. Rien.
This isn’t an “oversight” or “news judgment.” When there were eight and a half minutes missing from one White House tape during the Watergate investigation, investigative reporters from the Washington Post and Times, and many others, immediately presumed the worst. (The Post, at least, has some shred of integrity left.) Suddenly the e-mails that might prove White House involvement in suppressing opposition campaign efforts using the I.R.S. vanish, and it isn’t even news?
I see no reason why this shouldn’t be taken as definitive proof that the Times, at least, now regards its role as a servant of the party in the White House, and no longer the American people. Of course, a competent, independent,, fair and truth-seeking Justice Department would immediately investigate this issue, and indeed seek to have an independent counsel appointed, since in the interest of the public trust, the government should not investigate itself. But we have a corrupt, politicized, incompetent and obeisant Justice Department, so that is unlikely to happen. Attorney General Eric Holder, based on his disgraceful tenure so far, cares little for bolstering the public trust.
Despite the fact that President Obama initially expressed horror at the revelations regarding special I.R.S. harassment and obstruction of conservative groups, he quickly retreated to the familiar refrain on others scandals, most recently heard after the botched trade for Bowe Bergdahl. It’s all political. There is no scandal. Never mind that the key, Washington-based official refuses to testify. Never mind that various cover stories issuing from Jay Carney and the White House (the rogue agent in Cincinnati) have been disproved. Never mind that the evasive drip-drip-drip of requested documents reeks of Nixon’s tactics. The New York Times has picked sides.
Democracy’s throat is bared and vulnerable without a vigorous and cynical journalistic establishment. If Watergate represented its zenith, then the Obama administration is surely its nadir.
Yes, I know: this entire administration is so inept that it could have inadvertently destroyed the emails, though an unidentified DOJ lawyer (allegedly) tells Powerline that it could not:
“I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy….I’m serious about your keeping any identifying information out of the media. Things are very, very bad.”
No kidding. They are obviously very bad at the Times, too. I am not saying that the Times has to make accusations or even investigate itself, though if it had any self-respect and integrity, it would. I am saying that the Times has an obligation to let the public know this is happening, so it can make up its mind, and perhaps demand answers. This is a cover-up. A press assisted cover-up.
I think that’s news, too.
Graphic: Washington Post