Fox News' Martha MacCallum suggested a series of things President Obama could do in order to take “the high road” on allegations of IRS wrongdoing, ignoring the fact that Obama has already taken most of those actions over the past few days.
On the May 16 edition of America's Newsroom, MacCallum attacked Obama for his administration's handling of a recent story in which the Internal Revenue Service allegedly applied additional scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. She then recommended actions Obama should take, saying:
He could be the big person. He could say “this stinks. You're all fired. This doesn't happen in America.” He has every ability in his position right now to take the high road. Why not? Why not do it?
But President Obama has condemned the actions of the IRS staff repeatedly. On May 15, he called the misconduct “inexcusable,” saying “Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.” On May 14, two days before the Fox segment aired, Obama also called the actions of the IRS staff “intolerable and inexcusable”:
I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog's report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And the report's findings are intolerable and inexcusable. The federal government must conduct itself in a way that's worthy of the public's trust, and that's especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test.
I've directed [Treasury] Secretary [Jack] Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General's recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again. But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong. Public service is a solemn privilege. I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards. So do the American people. And as President, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day.
Obama also requested and accepted the resignation of Steven T. Miller, the acting commissioner of the IRS. In addition, the White House called for “new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again”:
First, we're going to hold the responsible parties accountable. Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts. Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
Second, we're going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. And I've directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG's recommendations right away.