The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 7/9/13, 10:41 PM ET

Correcting the record on IRS coverage

Now that the IRS non-scandal has lost all its steam, plenty in the media are trying to say that they knew all along there was no scandal at all. But from his first words on the matter, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell had the IRS story figured out. He has...

O’Donnell: The Washington media continues to fail in its coverage of the IRS non-scandal

Updated
By msnbc staff

Since the IRS scandal that was never really a scandal first broke out in May and subsequently dominated media coverage throughout the month, very few have argued that the “scandal” was in fact never one at all. From the start, msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell recognized that the real IRS scandal began in 1959 when the department changed the meaning of the language in the Internal Revenue Code that read, “Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

Under Section 501(c)(4) of the code which exempts certain types of nonprofit organizations from having to pay federal income tax, the IRS re-defined the term “exclusively” to a soft “primarily,” which created what Washington deemed a scandal–as O’Donnell pointed out in his first IRS segment May 13.

Salon wrote about this belated revelation on Monday, promising “a full accounting” of how erroneous the media was on their reporting about the IRS “scandal.” But as O’Donnell pointed out on Twitter and in his Rewrite segment Monday evening, Salon omitted one member of the media who got the story right from the start.

On June 3, O’Donnell looked back at how the media fell for the fake IRS scandal even after encouraging the Washington press corps to go back and check the statute.

“For weeks now, the Washington political media have been writing about and talking on TV about 501(c)4s and every one of them who has not quoted the very simple law on 501(c)4s, literally does not have the vaguest idea what he or she is actually talking about. You should mark this moment in political pundits. The press corps was given an intelligence test and it is failing it miserably. Washington press corps’ ignorance of 501(c)4 law is breathtakingly relentless,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell corrected Salon’s reporting and pointed out The Last Word’s 24 segments that Salon overlooked.

“Salon pretends today that it is taking a brave, lonely stance against the Washington media’s brief infatuation with the so-called IRS scandal–without mentioning that the idea for the piece is unoriginal, that the basic idea the piece advances has already been pushed relentlessly on this program for two months. But originality is not the Washington media’s strong point, and the author of this piece and Salon itself are indeed Washington media players with Washington media weaknesses.”


Here is the first time O’Donnell first spoke about the IRS non-scandal on his program.

“If you’ve been anywhere near a news source today, you know that tonight the Internal Revenue Service is officially out of control and that all of Washington is scandalized by the out of control IRS. But no one in Washington seems to understand that the IRS has been out of control on the matter in question since 1959 when Republican Dwight Eisenhower was president.  It was in 1959 that the IRS decided to change the meaning of the English language in a very important way, and that change was created, created what is called a scandal in Washington today, but is really just the IRS doing its job.”


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O'Donnell: The Washington media continues to fail in its coverage of the IRS non-scandal

Updated