This morning Prof Jacobson observed IRS reaped hatred of Tea Party sown by Democrats and the media.

A Tweeter responded:

Indeed. Douthat laid out the case of The Taxman vs. the Tea Party in a bit more detail. (more at memeorandum)

Our own era’s Brown Scare followed a similar pattern. Early in President Obama’s first term, a Department of Homeland Security report predicted an increase in right-wing extremism, citing real threats but also employing “a definition of extremist so broad,” Reason magazine’s Jesse Walker noted, that “it seemed to include anyone who opposed abortion or immigration or excessive federal power.”

As the Tea Party movement gathered steam, liberals consistently echoed the D.H.S. report’s themes, warning that the movement’s fringier elements and often-overheated rhetoric (which were real enough, and worth criticizing) were laying the groundwork for a wave of far-right violence.

Invoking J.F.K.’s assassination and Oklahoma City, these critics then leapt to connect the dots every time a kook pulled a gun or set off a bomb somewhere — whether it was a lone neo-Nazi shooting a guard at the Holocaust museum in Washington, the apparent murder (ultimately ruled a suicide) of a census worker in rural Kentucky, or even the failed Times Square bombing (which turned out to be the work of a would-be jihadist, but not before Michael Bloomberg had suggested that it might be “someone with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill or something”).

James Taranto observed:

That’s true, especially when you consider that last year, the editors of the New York Times argued The I.R.S. Does Its Job in subjecting Tea Party organization to extra scrutiny. The editors of the New York Times don’t appear to have weighed in on the emerging I.R.S. scandal, but the editors of the Washington Post, to their credit, have.

In Playing politics with tax records, the editors of the Washington Post are devastating.

“Mistakes were made,” the agency said in a statement. IRS official Lois Lerner explained that staffers used a “shortcut” to sort through a large number of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status, highlighting organizations with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. The IRS insisted emphatically that partisanship had nothing to do with it. However, it seems that groups with “progressive” in their titles did not receive the same scrutiny.

If it was not partisanship, was it incompetence? Stupidity, on a breathtaking scale? At this point, the IRS has lost any standing to determine and report on what exactly happened. Certainly Congress will investigate, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised. Mr. Obama also should guarantee an unimpeachably independent inquiry.

One line of questioning should focus on how the IRS’s procedures failed to catch this “shortcut” before its employees began using it. Another should center on how this misguided practice came to light, and on what the IRS planned and plans to do about it. Ms. Lerner was responding to a question when the news first came out; it’s not clear whether the government intended otherwise to disclose what had happened. Nor have officials been clear whether disciplinary measures have been taken.

Will other liberal and Democratic leaning media outlets have the guts follow the lead of the Post?

Pardon me while I toot my own tweet.


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