Darrell Issa’s hullaballoo’d IRS hearing, which contained only more people talking about information that had been reported previously, has harpooned at least one high-profile sucker. Peggy Noonan informs readers of her column that “the IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel,” and that this is a “bombshell.”
She uses the word “bombshell” several times, which is odd, because as Simon Maloy points out, Noonan had written about the “chief counsel” revelation two months ago.
The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May 2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting.
After Noonan’s puffery was pointed out on Twitter, a few conservatives asked some version of this question: “Are you trying to say it’s ‘old news’ to distract from how it’s outrageous?” To be clear, I went with the “old news” angle because Issa, who’s running low on good will from the press corps (for now—maybe he’ll glom on to a better scandal soon), hyped this hearing promising a new revelation that would implicate the White House, and he simply didn’t have the goods.
The effort to ensnare the Obama campaign and White House into the scandal has pulled in jokes Obama told about “auditing” his enemies, attacks the campaign made on Americans for Prosperity (the tax status of which was not challenged), and the fact that Jack Lew didn’t shoot up a flare when he was informed that the IG was looking into this. Hey, more power to Issa et al if they follow this trail and get emails from White House staffers directing the appointed counsel to let the IRS keep denying applications from Tea Party groups. But he doesn’t have any of that.
“Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention,” writes Noonan. I absolutely agree with her.