According to most of the Morning Joe panel on Monday, the media is not doing its job covering the IRS scandal. As Mark Halperin opined, "I think with a different administration, one that was a Republican administration, this story would be a national obsession, and, instead, it's getting coverage here and a few other places. But it deserves a lot more questions."
Halperin began the discussion but fellow panelist Bobby Ghosh and host Joe Scarborough quickly joined him in calling out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media.
The segment began with Halperin telling Scarborough that the IRS scandal was a test for the media. Joe asked the Bloomberg columnist to explain.
Halperin: Because when any government agency, particularly one as powerful as the IRS, engages in something that even people sympathetic to the admission says looks weird and suspicious, it's incumbent on all of the national media to aggressively ask more questions. The Republicans in Congress are asking questions. I think with a different administration, one that was a Republican administration, this story would be a national obsession, and, instead, it's getting coverage here and a few other places. But it deserves a lot more questions.
Bobby Ghosh agreed, but Bloomberg's Al Hunt, who usually goes out of his way to protect the Obama administration, said there has been plenty of coverage of the scandal.
Ghosh: Absolutely. If they were targeting Democratic groups and had been a Republican president, I think it would be in the front pages of every newspaper for weeks.
Hunt: Yeah. I actually think there's been reasonably aggressive coverage, mark. I'll send you a bunch of The New York Times pieces. I don't think it's covered up by the press. I think it's confusing, however. There is no evidence yet that there was any political interference. There is clear evidence that there was absolutely outrageous behavior by bureaucrats. There was clearly some targeting that went on. Some of it grows out of the Citizens United case. There are people who ought to be punished, perhaps even prosecuted. The critical question remains whether there was political interference from the top, either the treasury or the White House, and everything we have seen so far suggests not. But more is to be investigated.
Halperin: I just don't think we can presume a presumption of innocence just because the White House says the Treasury wasn't involved.
Joe Scarborough ended the conversation by implying the mainstream media is not passing the test Halperin outlined:
Scarborough: ...But you have a situation, again, where somebody was, again, where the chairman of Ways and Means-- I find it hard to believe that if the Democratic chairman of the Ways and Means sent a Republican administration a letter saying we are going to begin an inquiry about you targeting individual Americans and political groups that don't like Republicans -- and then a week or so later, e-mails from the top leaders at the IRS disappear...? [Holding up the "NY Times" he added] I find that hard to believe that would not be on the front page of this newspaper every day. Who knows?