Bradley Smith points out that for anyone wondering about the genesis of the IRS scandal–and yes, it is a scandal–wonder no more; the scandal is easy to understand when you remember that Henry II had a lot to do with it taking place. When you have a host of Democratic politicians–including the president of the United States–attacking conservative 501(c)(4) groups, and you have IRS bureaucrats wanting to make sure that they get in good with the powers that be, it ought to surprise precisely no one that conservative groups will get targeted by the IRS. Lestrade could tell you this just as surely (and just as quickly) as any of the Holmes brothers could.
What is the big lesson that we draw from Smith’s piece? I say the piece teaches us that there are consequences to the propensity of traditional media to celebrate political rhetoric that attacks conservative social welfare organizations, and the laws that allow those organizations to exist. Those consequences include the fact that media approbation provides cover for future IRS harassment of those organizations. Of course, we can be pretty sure that much of traditional media would speak out against Republicans attacking port-side social welfare groups (and yes, this is the part where I ask you to imagine what the media reaction might have been if George W. Bush had started the kind of verbal assault against left-of-center social welfare groups that Barack Obama started against conservatives), and we can be equally sure that much of traditional media will remain resistant to calling out both sides for rhetoric that might encourage government harassment. But that doesn’t mean that anyone ought to give up the fight to have a media structure that puts bias to the side every once in a while, and does the right thing irrespective of the political leanings of its reporters.