Here’s the Latest Right-Wing IRS Fantasy


Here’s a great example of the conservative media bubble at work. I was browsing The Corner a few minutes ago and came across a post telling me that the government has, rather astonishingly, acknowledged that it has another backup of Lois Lerner’s missing emails. Judicial Watch, which has been trying to get hold of these emails, sent out a press release trumpeting its discovery:

Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe….This is a jaw-dropping revelation. The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails….The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be — but dishonestly withheld this information.

Well. That’s fascinating. But I wondered what was really up. I went to Google News but all I found were links to conservative news sites. The Judicial Watch story was plastered over all of them: Forbes, The Blaze, NRO, Breitbart, Fox, Townhall, the Washington Examiner, the Free Beacon, and the New York Observer. But none of the usual mainstream news sources seemed to have anything about this.

Except for The Hill. Hooray! So I clicked:

[An] administration official said Justice Department lawyers had dropped no bombshells last week, and that Judicial Watch was mischaracterizing what the government had said.

The official said that Justice lawyers were only referring to tapes backing up IRS emails that were routinely recycled twice a year before 2013, when the investigation into the Tea Party controversy began….The administration official said that the inspector general is examining whether any data can be recovered from the previously recycled back-up tapes and suggested that could be the cause of the confusion between the government and Judicial Watch.

Roger that. What he’s saying is that backup 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.

But in right-wing fantasyland, it’s no doubt already become conventional wisdom that the feds have some kind of massive government-wide backup system that contains every email ever written by any federal employee. The Obama administration has just been hiding it.

Which is exactly what you’d expect from them, isn’t it?

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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