The revelation that all of the emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner's hard drive have been lost has given new life to the long-dead IRS "scandal," but there are a few key facts that the mainstream media, and its influential, unofficial ombudsman Jon Stewart, are failing to report about these "missing emails."
Coverage of the IRS "scandal" has been characterized by irresponsible, downright defamatory hyperbole, but when it finally sank in that the IRS also targeted liberal groups for added scrutiny, and no remote hint of involvement by the White House, even Republicans had to face facts: as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted over a year ago, this is never going to amount to the "Nixonian" scandal that conservatives, and the media, want it to.
But the revelation that Lerner's hard drive crashed, taking with it all of her emails from 2009-2011, has given new life to the story. The mainstream media have latched onto the "missing emails" story as a major complication for a White House that has thus far avoided entanglement, while Jon Stewart used The Daily Show this week to make fun of the IRS for only keeping six months worth of backup, while requiring everyone else to retain receipts dating back to their first school lunches. Along the way, Stewart noted that "there's been no real evidence found that the White House is involved," before launching into his bit about the IRS sucking:
Now, mainstream media reporting on the "missing emails" carries with it the implication that, although a connection with the White House hasn't been proven, there are all these missing emails, so who knows? Maybe it is reasonable for Republicans to hold 17 hearings on the matter, even though the IRS targeted liberal groups too, and didn't deny tax exempt status to a single conservative group. Like Stewart said, doesn't it kind of reek of a coverup?
And even in Jon Stewart's more charitable summary, "there's been no real evidence found" means that maybe there still is some, and that there certainly isn't evidence to indicate the opposite, that the White House had no involvement in Lerner's activities.
One under-reported fact is that, although Lois Lerner's hard drive was destroyed, the IRS has managed to submit over 24,000 of Lerner's emails to Congress by obtaining them from the IRS personnel who received them, and will be submitting an additional 43,000 emails recovered from Lerner's computer and email account. As Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pointed out at a hearing Monday, there is ample evidence of the tech problems that resulted in Lerner's email loss, and whatever gaps may have occurred because of that hard drive crash can be filled in by recipients from the various entities whom Lerner emailed.
That brings me to the other, almost completely unreported fact in this latest chapter of the IRS saga. Would it surprise you to learn that the White House has searched for, and submitted, every single email between Lerner and any official in the Executive Office of the President, and every email that was even sent to both Lerner and any EOP employee? This shouldn't be a surprise, because then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained all of this to Fox News' Ed Henry at his final briefing last week. Can you guess how many emails they found, or how many of them contained evidence of possible collusion between Lerner and the White House?
"We found zero e-mails -- sorry to disappoint -- between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period. We found three e-mails where a third party e-mailed both Lois Lerner and officials within the EOP. One was a spam e-mail and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Each of these e-mails has been produced to Congress."
Zero emails between Lois Lerner and the White House. Three emails that were sent to both of them, two of which were from your grandma. No one is alleging that the White House is missing any emails, so this result would seem to pretty much close the case, in terms of the White House's involvement.
Why don't you know about it? That's a question for a mainstream media that's more interested in having two ides to repeat than in serving the public and telling the truth.