Fox News contributor Monica Crowley downplayed the actions of former President Richard Nixon and fabricated President Obama's White House ties to controversial actions by the Internal Revenue Service to claim that the recent controversy constitutes the “most dangerous scandal in U.S. history.”
Crowley served as a foreign policy aide to Nixon after he resigned in disgrace from the presidency. Conservative media have frequently made absurd and ahistorical comparisons between Nixon and Obama that rely on ignorant interpretations of the actions of both presidents.
On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Your World, Crowley highlighted recent allegations that the IRS improperly gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups seeking nonprofit status. Suggesting that the Obama White House must have been involved, Crowley compared those allegations unfavorably to what she claimed were the actions of Nixon, saying that while Nixon had been “talking about using the IRS to go after a political enemy,” the IRS under Obama “was used for political purposes to target entire swaths of society.”
Crowley's comparison is nonsensical. There is no evidence that President Obama or White House aides were involved in the alleged improper behavior, a fact that leading conservative pundits and Republican politicians have acknowledged. In fact, recent disclosures indicate that the IRS may have also targeted progressive groups, undermining the allegations that conservatives have promoted for months.
By contrast, Nixon, on tape, personally urged his attorney general to go after the income taxes of his political enemies. His White House counsel, John Dean, gave the head of the IRS an envelope of the names of Nixon's political enemies, with clear implication that his agency should investigate those individuals. Dean also devised a memorandum titled “Dealing with our political enemies,” which urged the use of “the available political machinery to screw our political enemies.” Other Nixon aides were involved in plots to break into the Democratic offices in the Watergate Hotel and the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist (which occurred), and to murder journalists and firebomb the Brookings Institution (which thankfully did not).
In short, Nixon and his top aides were deeply and directly involved in massive illegality. There's no evidence Obama or his aides were involved in activity whose illegality is under question. But that's not the story former Nixon aide Crowley wants to tell.