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The Campaign to Wish Away the IRS Scandal

1:05 PM, Aug 2, 2013 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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But based on the actual evidence, Klein was foolish to say the "scandals are falling apart" in May, and it's foolish to say it now. At the end of the day, I suspect that the recent disregard for the facts and the odd framing of the scandal is really about creating a "permission structure" -- a phrase Klein is no doubt familiar with -- for those on the left to help begin speaking of the scandal as if it's not legitimate. In fairness, it's not just Klein dismissing the scandal -- here's MSNBC's Steve Benen, The New Republic, and CNN hitting the same theme. After all, the White House Press Secretary recently surprised observers declaring IRS a "phony scandal." We journalists might be expected to be suspect of the White House's motivations for dismissing the IRS scandal, but it seems some of us have received marching orders.

P.S. This is somewhat tangential, but even if it could be proven that the IRS was acting apolitically and targeting everyone with equal abandon, why would this understanding result in less "reputational damage" to the IRS? Political targeting by the IRS would likely be the result of a few bad actors. It's easy to solve the problem by cleaning house. If the entire IRS up and down the chain of command saw nothing wrong with sending out lengthy questionaires demanding to know the content of prayers and the political affiliations of your relatives willy-nilly, that suggests virtually no one at the agency knows the limits of its authority. The IRS's entire bureaucratic culture is compromised, and that's a much harder problem to fix as a matter of restoring credibility.

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