Fox Ignores Details To Dismiss Congressman's Claim That IRS Targeting Mystery Is Solved

Fox News dishonestly dismissed a Democratic congressman's statement that the mystery of who began the IRS' inappropriate targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status has been solved.

Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, appeared on CNN's State of the Union on June 9 where he explained that a Cincinnati-based IRS manager told congressional interviewers that a screener under his supervision brought a tea party group's application for tax-exempt status to his attention, and that he then sent the case to a Washington office for assistance. In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the committee, Cummings further explained that the IRS manager “said he then instructed his team of screeners to identify similar cases” and that the manager told interviewers that “he took this action on his own.” The screener under this manager's supervision was also interviewed, and he “acknowledged developing search terms” that that Inspector General's office called “inappropriate” in its report. This is consistent with the Inspector General's finding that the IRS Determinations United in Cincinnati “developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with the words Tea Party in their names.”

But Fox's coverage of Cummings' statement withheld all of this information from the network's viewers. Fox & Friends merely aired Cummings' conclusion on CNN that “the case is solved” before giving Virginia Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli a platform to air his grievances against the IRS. America's Newsroom similarly aired only Cummings' conclusion and brought on Fox contributor Stephen Hayes to comment, with Hayes also refraining from detailing what the IRS manager told interviewers while questioning why Cummings is putting so much emphasis on the manager's answers.

Fox has been pushing the discredited assertion that the White House or IRS officials in Washington drove the IRS' actions, claiming that partial transcripts of interviews with IRS employees prove that Washington was behind the inappropriate targeting, even though Republicans have admitted they lacked evidence for that. Fox also said that a former IRS commissioner's visits to the White House show that the agency was coordinating with the White House to target conservative groups, when in fact he mostly met with staffers charged with implementing the Affordable Care Act.