Megyn Kelly hosted Dana Perino today to join in her indignation over the phony IRS “scandal.” Kelly’s America Live program, which airs from 1-3PM ET, is supposed to be part of Fox News’ “objective” news lineup. But Kelly was a vision of Republican indignation and talking points throughout. Do you think she mentioned how, as Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times reported, that conservatives were not the only target? Do you think she spared any of her non-stop indignation (does Kelly have any other emotion?) for liberal targets? And, more importantly, did she show any interest in how conservatives may be exploiting this issue beyond its worth and for their own gain? Don’t make me laugh.
In his excellent LA Times piece, Hiltzik wrote:
Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years.
…It’s amusing to reflect that some politicians making hay over this are the same people who contend that we don’t need more regulations, we just need to enforce the ones we have. (Examples: gun control and banking regulation.) Here’s a case where the IRS is trying to enforce regulations that Congress enacted, and it’s still somehow doing the wrong thing.
If any of that occurred to Kelly or if she had bothered to do any research beyond Republican talking points, she didn’t let on. At least not in this segment. I missed most of the rest of her show today. But considering how she worked herself into a GOP-friendly lather in this segment, I’m willing to bet she was just as much a Meggy-One-Note throughout the rest of her two-hours of air time.
And did I mention the segment gave Kelly the opportunity to resurrect her attacks on Eric Holder? I’m still waiting for Kelly to apologize to her viewers for her last Holder witch hunt so I’m not going to hold my breath for any apology over anything she had to say here. And Kelly all but recommended her viewers vote Republican in 2014 when she said:
How does this affect the midterm elections because I think it’s gonna be much harder now for the president and the Democrats to go out there and say, “Kick those Republicans out of the House. We want to control all branches of government and you can trust us to do that." Because we wouldn’t be having any of these investigations. You know, we wouldn’t be having Issa looking into Benghazi on Capitol Hill and so on if the GOP didn’t control the House.
But Kelly outdid herself near the end of the segment. After admitting, at about 8:35 that “there is no evidence” that the scandal goes beyond the IRS and that the Inspector General’s report indicated that it did not, she and Perino did their best to suggest that it was President Obama’s fault anyway.
Perino said, “If the direction to target conservatives’ groups was not explicit, it was certainly implied. …Think of all the things that they (the Obama administration) have said. If you added all of that up together, you could understand why somebody in government would think that, ‘Oh, we should go after these people.’” To that, Kelly added, “I just want to tell the viewers – because you need to know – that they keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s Cincinnati, it’s these guys in Cincinnati.' Cincinnati is the headquarters for the IRS for processing these requests for tax-exempt status. It’s not just (one of the) field offices.”
As the segment ended, Kelly “joked,” “I think of the t-shirt that I’ve seen on line which is, which reads, ‘What if Glenn Beck is right?’”
“Hey, look, even a broken clock is right twice a day,” Perino said. She added, “It’s unbelievable that the president learned it from press reports.”
“Is it literally unbelievable?” Kelly, the "objective" conspiracy theorist asked.
All that said, this was not something that somehow allowed President Obama to somehow alter the election outcome in Ohio, or anywhere else. The fact is that he was always ahead there by all measures other than pollers like Rasmussen, who was desperately trying to prop up the failing Romney campaign.
The right wing seems to want people to believe that these fringe tea party groups could have somehow mobilized a million voters in Ohio – except this forgets that there was already a deafening cacaphony of political ads flooding Ohio for the whole year before the election. Ohio was one of the most heavily lobbied states in the country, if not THE most heavily lobbied one. Romney spent plenty of money there, as did many, many Tea Party groups and other conservative PACs. It made no difference. Obama had a better ground game there and in the end, that was what made the difference.
Notice that none of these people is bringing up the real reasons that several million hardcore GOP didn’t vote for Romney. Romney got the predictable votes of many GOP members who hated Obama on sight, and he got the predictable votes of moderate GOP members who didn’t swing all the way over to the hard right. But he never sold the serious right wingers. They never believed his statements of being a severe conservative and they couldn’t deal with his religion. Past that, Romney badly hurt himself by constantly swinging to the far right and thus alienating some of the moderates as well. And past even that, Romney never appealed to crossover Democrats in any significant manner. But the big wound for Romney was that so many of the “true believers” just wouldn’t vote for him. Which is why you heard all those cries that the GOP voters wanted a “real conservative” rather than Romney. Translation: Romney didn’t appeal to enough people to win – so he lost. End of election, and end of the political trajectory for Mitt Romney, a man who had been groomed since grade school to run for higher office. His epitaph will show that he rose as far as being a Governor, but that he abandoned his duties in search of an even better office he could never achieve.
It’s interesting that the right wing wants to play these items up as much as possible, when they were desperately tamping down much more serious material during the Bush Administration. Further, when people brought up the very real criminality of the George W. Bush presidency, Fox News was on the front lines calling those people treasonous and every other name in the book. Am I the only one who remembers the right wing wagging their fingers and saying “You must not criticize the President during a time of war!” or saying “You don’t support the troops if you criticize our policies!” or best yet, “Americans need to watch what they do, watch what they say!” Of course, now that we have a Democrat president, and one who is not someone these pundits like, all those rules suddenly don’t apply anymore. Now the President is fair game because the right wing “just has some questions”. Right, just a few leading questions that are clearly intended to continue a pattern of disruption, obstruction and harassment that’s been going on since Obama began his 2008 campaign.
Let’s look at these three “huge scandals” and see if there’s any “there there”, as Obama put it this week. There’s Benghazi, which is a situation where our consulate was attacked and where the right wing wants to try to blame Obama for it somehow. So they’re disputing the military assessments (which is a new wrinkle for the right wing – previously they’ve always hid behind the military officers) and they’ve decided on their own that somehow a military force could have magically appeared in this area of Libya at a moment when the entire region was engulfed by rioting over the “Innocence of Muslims” video. As a fallback for that, they want to carp about what “talking points” were given to Susan Rice before she discussed the matter on Sunday talk shows. Which assumes that the right wing wasn’t already disputing anything Rice or Obama said at the time. The “talking points” discussion is flat out ridiculous – if this was a huge cover-up, then why is it that everyone was able to discuss every aspect of the matter openly for the two months up to the election? The answer is that it’s a ruse. Romney and the GOP tried this tack last fall, and it resulted in two humiliating debate defeats for Romney. But for some reason, these guys want to pull the zombie back up off the mat, dust it off, and try it out again.
The IRS matter is one where local guys in Ohio clearly got irritated at the pile of “Tea Party” groups trying to game the system to cheerlead for Romney on the public dime. But the reality is that if they followed the law, those groups do have the right to do this. So the supervisor who caught their behavior made them change the guidelines to include other political groups. And that’s pretty much the story. The “Tea Party” wants to continue to cry foul over this, but there really isn’t any more to discuss. The notion that President Obama was discussing a Cincinatti IRS flagging guideline, much less orchestrating it, is laughable on its face. The fact is that some IRS guys acted inappropriately and were disciplined. And now the Acting Director has resigned as well, showing that there are consequences for this stuff. If that’s a scandal that’s going to bring down an Administration, I’d like to know where it is.
Finally, there’s the AP matter. In this case, you have a serious security leak regarding a terrorism investigation. And yes, it’s pretty scary to have the DOJ getting access to the home phone records of reporters involved in the story. I would absolutely agree that this is one of those things that should cross party lines in terms of people being concerned about it. BUT, and here’s the kicker, this was actually legal. Because the Patriot Act championed by the right wing specifically allows for this kind of surveillance. And the Patriot Act was opposed by the left specifically for things like that. The left said consistently that the Patriot Act was an overreach that could do terrible things to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and all through that time, Fox News shouted the left down and said this was necessary to protect the USA and “either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Had such a case come up during the George W. Bush Admin, you would have heard Fox News trumpeting that this was totallly necessary and that the reporters shouldn’t be worried if they have nothing to hide. Since this is happening on Obama’s watch, Fox News wants to pretend that they’re now concerned about people’s free speech rights. Once again, is this a serious “scandal” that will bring down a presidency? No. It’s the DOJ conducting an investigation and ticking off a bunch of people, including reporters – but it’s legal conduct whether we like it or not until we do the right thing and repeal the Patriot Act. I would ask the pundits of Fox News if they are now prepared to support such a repeal, and if they have their apology ready for those of us on the left who have asked for this for over a decade. This doesn’t have to be a big deal for Fox News. Just a humble little one, like “We at Fox News are very, very sorry that we supported the Patriot Act. We were wrong to do so and we acknowledge our error. We at Fox News are very, very sorry that we doubted the integrity and good intentions of the people of the USA and we promise not to do it anymore.” Something tells me this apology may not be coming soon.
In the end, will any of these “huge scandals” resonate with history? Will anyone outside of Fox News pundits be bringing this up in a year? Even James Rosen at Fox doesn’t think so. The reality is that none of this will matter in 2016. Fox News will continue to wave Benghazi around for a while, until they find a new “smoking gun” in some other matter to point at. It’s funny that the Fox News pundits accuse the American people of being distracted by “shiny objects”. (And this was clearly another one of those notorious “daily memos”, since the meme was echoed all over the channel) The fact is that Fox News is dedicated to presenting “shiny objects” to its viewers every day – objects that always seem to play to their lowest instincts and their angriest prejudices.
As it is, Hannity and Cunningham tried to push a meme that somehow the actions of the Cincinatti IRS flaggers were the entire ballgame for the 2012 election. The Hannity narrative seems to be trying to say that Obama was somehow panicking that he was going to lose Ohio and therefore got the IRS to mess with the Tea Party groups so they couldn’t be an effective opposition. Except that the polls never showed Obama behind in Ohio – he had a predictable lead from early on, and he never lost it. The IRS flagging method was wildly inappropriate, but it was actually fixed and corrected long before this became a news story. The fact that the acting head of the IRS has stepped down should demonstrate that the Obama Administration is taking this quite seriously. But if you only listened to Hannity’s show, you’d come away with a very different conclusion.
Actor Glenn Beck is claiming he’s the only one who broke the story on President Obama. Then you have High End Hannocchio bragging on radio that he is the one who called out Obama. Savage also is stating he called out Obama. Levin, Limbaugh and other conservative mouthpieces are also claiming credit on Benghazi.
It won’t be long before these conservative clowns start attacking each other on who got the Benghazi scoop first.
NOTE TO BARBIE KELLY
Your colleagues at Fox are going to be very jealous of Beck.
Yeah, if only Pres. Obama had a Vice President running the country so he could sit around and watch TV and read the paper all day like Dumbya did.
“It’s unbelievable that the President thinks we’re part of the legitimate press.” -There, I corrected that for you Dana.
Better question: What if Glenn Beck was right when he said, “If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot”?
If so, I feel sorry for you, Meg . . .