Joe Scarborough and Other Republicans' Complete Hypocrisy on the IRS and Political Speech

On Monday, "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough lambasted The Obama Administration over the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. He referred to the scandal as "mind-boggling" and called on Obama to denounce the IRS's actions. "You can't allow the government to tread on political speech. There is a wall around that. And that wall has been knocked down by the IRS for several years now," continuing, "I can't imagine much worse than this. The Internal Revenue Service - the taxman - to go after political beliefs…It's unspeakable - and the President of the United States - the head of the administration, the head of this government - needs to come out today and condemn this in the harshest terms, demand answers and fire people." 

Is it lonely up there on your pedestal, Joe Scarborough? Especially considering that the scroll inscribed in granite underneath that statue you've built to yourself -  the one listing all of your accomplishments of your public life (fails to mention any staff fatalities) - skips that day in 2004 when you wrote the IRS urging them to tread on the political speech of the NAACP. 

In July 2004, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond criticized President Bush in a speech, saying his administration preached racial neutrality and practiced racial division. "They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the constitution at home," said Bond. IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson alleged that the investigation was undertaken because two unnamed congressional leaders requested it. After two years, the IRS concluded that the remarks did not violate the group's tax-exempt status. 

There is a side dish of hypocrisy - when Scarborough wrote to the IRS about the NAACP, he did so as a private citizen. If there were any conduct rules at MSNBC, he would have incurred their wrath or at least had nowhere to hide in the event that anybody called him out for demanding a kind of knocking-down of that wall that he has so recently come to bemoan. The others who approached the internal revenue service in 2004 had no such cover (Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Susan Collins, Rep. Jo Ann S. Davis and then-Rep. Larry Combest) some of them later backtracked, demanding the Washington Post put a note next to its story on this that explained that theyweren't asking that the IRS investigate the Nation's largest civil rights organization, they were merely passing on requests to do so from their own constituents. This leaves another conservative who spends almost as much as her time pretending to be a moderate as Scarborough does, Senator Collins (Maine) with the appropriately cheesy amount of wiggle-room to get out of the fact that she, too, demanded an IRS political witch-hunt in 2004, but seems to have changed her mind or lost it in 2013, "this is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government. It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review. And I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out." 

Collins, and to a greater degree Scarborough represents one of two political types who are phenomenally dangerous to our way of life. Unless he underwent - and proclaimed - a total conversion on a given topic, he is either that rankest of hypocrites who will criticize somebody or something for doing exactly what he told it to do, or perhaps even worse, he is that pundit who has absolutely no idea what he said in the precise circumstances less than a decade before. 

I have a solution here: Let's just have the IRS investigate anybody who wrote to the IRS demanding they investigate somebody else. 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.