IRS targeted conservatives as early as 2010: WSJ; Update: ABC corroborates
...In retrospect, this looks like a strategy to spin the report ahead of its release. Rather than wait for the results to drop like a bombshell in the media, the IRS sent Lerner out for damage control, admitting to as little as possible while sounding as though the agency was taking responsibility for their errors. That way, when the report did come out, the media could proclaim it “old news,” taking a page from Jay Carney’s Benghazi scandal strategy, and castigate anyone demanding more answers and drawing the obvious conclusion that the Obama administration has politicized the IRS.
Unfortunately, that strategy didn’t work very well. Lerner turned out to be a very poor choice for that job, bungling the media handling badly enough that the media ended up more annoyed than mollified. Mostly, though, this is news that’s just not spinnable. The report now appears to implicate the highest levels of the IRS in either misleading or outright lying to Congress, and raises questions about how exactly this effort got put into place at all. They basically threw gasoline on a fire that would have exploded anyway, making the conflagration even more eye-catching as a result....
George Will on IRS tea party attacks: ‘How stupid do they think we are?’
...On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Will proposed a scenario wherein the Bush administration had targeted groups with the word “progressive” in their names and concluded the situation would be much different in terms of expressions of outrage.
“Mr. Hicks, when he was in Libya, said his jaw dropped at the explanation back here,” Will said. “This was a jaw-dropping moment. In response to a question at American Bar Association convention, a second-level IRS person said, ‘Oh by the way, we did target these people.’
“The Tea Party people have known about this and were working on this,” Will continued. “But they said — it was just some odd underlings out in Cincinnati who did this and there was no political motive whatever involved. Now the question is, how stupid do they think we are? Just imagine, Donna Brazile, if the George W. Bush administration had an IRS underling, he’s out in Cincinnati, of course, saying we’re going to target groups with the word ‘progressive’ in their title. We’d have all hell breaking loose.”...
Wider Problems Found at IRS
...The report indicates that in 2010 and 2011, some IRS workers weren't just singling out groups because their names contained certain words, as IRS officials suggested on Friday, but appeared to be probing for indications of political interests or leanings.
According to the report, by June 2011 some IRS specialists were probing applications using the following criteria: "issues include government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to 'make America a better place to live'; statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run."