Remember the IRS “scandal”? It ran out of steam quite a while ago when literally every allegation fell apart, but it appears that some conservatives continue to hold out hope.
A far-right group called Judicial Watch, which continues to pursue the discredited controversy, touted the “discovery” yesterday of computer backups that may uncover missing emails from Lois Lerner. The New York Observer ran an “IRS Shocker” headline, and soon after, all the major far-right blogs had run with the story, as had Fox, Breitbart, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, et al.
I received some emails from conservative readers convinced that this time, after over a year of false starts, the story really will gain traction. There may be, the new argument goes, some heretofore unmentioned back-up tapes of government emails that may have IRS messages, which may include Lerner emails, which may have damning evidence.
Except, they’re still wrong.
[A]n administration official with knowledge of Friday’s conversation said Judicial Watch’s statement, which runs counter to months of statements from a variety of administration and IRS higher-ups, was off-base. The administration official said Justice Department lawyers had dropped no bombshells last week, and Judicial Watch was mischaracterizing what the government had said.
Kevin Drum’s summary rings true.
[B]ackup tapes are routinely recycled and written over, but it’s possible that some of the tapes weren’t entirely written over. There’s a chance that old emails might still be at the tail end of some of the tapes and could be recovered. And who knows: maybe some of them were Lerner’s. This is, as you can imagine, (a) the longest of long shots, and (b) a pretty difficult forensic recovery job even if some parts of the backup tapes contain old messages. It’s certainly not a jaw-dropping revelation.
And just to add to this line of thought, there’s nothing to suggest Lois Lerner’s emails are all that interesting anyway.
A month ago, the right was all worked up because they’d uncovered a private email Lerner had sent to her husband calling far-right radio-show listeners “a**holes.” That may have been impolite, but when House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) used this to call for a special prosecutor, it was a little silly.
A month before that, conservatives were outraged by the notion that Lerner sent an email that “sought an audit” of Sen. Chuck Grassley, and that turned out to be a non-story, too.
The fact remains that Republican investigators already have access to months of Lerner emails, literally none of which were incriminating, and literally none of which bolstered the conspiracy theories.
We’re talking about a controversy that ran its course – i.e., was proven baseless – over a year ago. The white whale has moved on; it’s long past time for the assorted Captain Ahabs to do the same.