The Washington Post is credited with exposing the Watergate conspiracy and helping to bring down a corrupt presidency. Forty years later, the Post played a role in the corruption of the Internal Revenue Service, to the benefit of an incumbent president in a bitter and close re-election.
A staff memo released earlier this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee provides an “interim update” on the investigation of the IRS scandal. A central finding: “Media attention caused the IRS to treat conservative-oriented tax-exempt applications differently” from liberal or progressive ones.
The memo presents no evidence that the White House directly ordered the IRS to crack down on political opponents. Instead, it is consistent with the theory, described here in May, that IRS personnel responded to “dog whistles” (in Peggy Noonan’s metaphor) in public statements from the president and his supporters. . . .
As we have argued before, Barack Obama’s re-election deserves to be listed with an asterisk in the record books. He is the political equivalent of an athlete found to have used illicit performance-enhancing drugs. Whether he would have won in 2012 absent the IRS’s political corruption is unknowable. We know only that he did win with the help of a corrupt IRS. And if indeed the election was stolen, many in the media were complicit in its theft.
Those of a common political bent need no supervision to just act.