By Warner Todd Huston
During the 2012 presidential campaign, many conservatives complained that the IRS was targeting them for harassment, with some even claimed that Obama had an "enemies list." At the time, the progressive media complex ridiculed these claims, but now the IRS itself has come forward to "apologize" for just the sort of behavior that conservatives accused it of engaging in during the presidential campaign.
The New York Times led the way last year, not only dismissing claims that the IRS was acting in a partisan manner by saying that the IRS was just doing its job, but the so-called paper of record went further, calling for the taxing agency to step up its efforts to an even higher degree.
In another report, the Times attempted to spin the whole discussion as little more but a Republican effort to create a false political narrative.
The Huffington Post joined that line of attack with a piece by Dan Froomkin, who similarly praised the IRS for its targeting of political groups and insisting that more be done.
Froomkin additionally reported that everything the IRS was doing was "perfectly normal and appropriate."
Lefty PBS commentator Bill Moyers also got into the game with a piece penned with Michael Winship headlined "Pity the Poor Billionaires." The taxpayer-funded Moyers pulled no punches, saying that conservative complaints that the IRS was targeting them was something worthy of reply by "the world’s smallest violin."
Moyers ridiculed claims by a Romney supporter who said Obama had targeted him for harassment. In June of 2012, Frank VanderSloot made news with his announcement that Obama and his left-wing followers had targeted him for his support of conservative causes. The billionaire also reported that he had been the subject of no less than two federal audits.
Moyers referenced an American Prospect piece by Paul Waldman that also attacked VanderSloot for his claims of harassment. Waldman slammed VanderSloot, asking, "Is there a group of people you can think of who have thinner skin than America's multi-millionaires and billionaires?"
Waldman made fun of the whole claim of an Obama's enemies list and dismissed the idea that the IRS might be used as a dirty tricks squad. "I find VanderSloot's whining particularly grating because as a political writer, I get attacked all the time," he complained.
New Republic's Alec MacGillis was also full of sarcasm, snark, and ridicule over the whole idea that Obama could possibly have an enemies list or might use his power as president to target his opponents.
This discussion predates the 2012 election cycle, too. Back in 2010, another Huffington Post writer, Sam Stein, dismissed claims that Obama was using the IRS as a means to attack conservatives when the Koch brothers said that the IRS had been increasing its activities in their accounts.
Yet, despite the media's skepticism that the IRS could be used as a tool to harass Obama's opponents, the IRS has now apologized for doing just that.
One group that was targeted, TheTeaParty.net, has told the IRS that "its apology is not accepted."
"What we’ve long suspected to be the case is now confirmed to be true. The Obama administration has used the IRS as a political weapon. The IRS may claim that it is 'sorry.' But given the damage that has been done, their apology is not accepted,” said Niger Innis, Chief Strategist for TheTeaParty.net.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice provided legal counsel for several of the organizations targeted by the IRS. Sekulow also released a statement on the admission by the IRS.
"We knew from the very start that this intimidation tactic was coordinated and focused directly on specific organizations,” Sekulow said in a statement. “This admission by the IRS represents a significant victory for free speech and freedom of association. There was never any doubt that these organizations complied with the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades. And for the many tax-exempt groups we represent, this is an important day--and underscores the need to stand up and defend your constitutional freedoms."