What liberal media conspiracy?
Try this one:
Relentless Washington Post columnists’ attacks on the tea party movement as racists opposed to Obama simply because he’s black played a key role in IRS decisions to target conservative groups for extra scrutiny, according to a congressional memo reported by the Daily Caller on Thursday.
And it’s just a coincidence that those same columnists are frequent guests at White House off-the-record meetings with journalists?
A Sept. 17 memo from the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, Re-Calif., found that IRS personnel making decisions based largely on negative coverage of tea party groups in the Post, according to the Daily Caller.
It didn’t publish the full memo, but excerpts make clear that the coverage influenced the IRS moves.
“The potential for media attention continued to be a concern for IRS officials once Washington received additional sample cases in late March 2010,” the memo states. ‘Around the same time that the Washington Post was running columns critical of the Tea Party, she [an IRS employee] added that ‘[t]he Tea Party movement is covered in the Post almost daily. I expect to see more applications.’”
The Daily Caller cites the work of Washington Post columnists Colbert King and Eugene Robinson.
It’s not hard to see why. Both are among the most liberal of the Post’s stable of very liberal columnists. Both also happen to be black and write often about race, especially Robinson, and especially when it comes to President Obama’s critics.
In November, 2010, for instance, just before Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives (and pushed the IRS crackdown on the tea party into high gear), the Washington Post published a Robinson column that specifically accused the tea party of racism in its protests of Obama policies. That Nov. 2 column concluded:
“Obama has made mistakes that rightly cost him political support. But I can’t help believing that the Tea Party’s rise was partly due to circumstances beyond his control – that he’s different from other presidents, and that the difference is his race.”
That’s not true, but it’s beside the point.
Robinson isn’t the only prominent journalist to be a guest at the White House, of course, and he and the Washington Post are free to publish whatever they want to publish. The First Amendment says so.
But tea party groups are also free to organize and protest. That’s in the First Amendment, too.
The IRS, though, is not free to base its decisions about American citizens’ constitutional rights on what another group says. Even if – or especially if – that group happens to be so close to the administration as to be its mouthpiece pretending to be a free press.
If it did, it might look like a conspiracy.