This morning Katie Pavlich published a "breaking news" report on Townhall.com about "newly acquired emails" obtained by Judicial Watch. Her headline was provocative: "New Emails Show Lois Lerner Contacted The DOJ About Prosecuting Tax-Exempt Organizations."
Or put another way, Pavlich was telling readers "See? They were really persecuting conservatives!"
Only, there was a problem. Lerner did not reach out to the DOJ at all. The emails Pavlich published under that headline indicate that the DOJ reached out to the IRS.
In the email, Lerner says she was contacted by the Department of Justice about responding to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who was asking about whether organizations who lied on their submissions requesting tax-exempt status could be prosecuted.
Pavlich interpreted this to mean the IRS and DOJ were colluding to prosecute only conservative organizations, and if the IRS had actually reached out to the DOJ, they might --MIGHT -- have been able to stretch enough to actually argue that on some level.
But that's not what happened. The opposite happened, and when you are an IRS director responding to a request from the Department of Justice and a Senator, you don't ignore the request. Lerner appropriately passed it along and asked for assistance from her colleagues.
Pavlich's story and headline were corrected. The new headline reads "New Emails Show Lois Lerner Was in Contact With DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups" and there is a paragraph clarifying at the bottom.
Editors note/correction: A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.
The IRS targeted no one. The DOJ was looking into the possibility of criminal perjury claims, because those submissions are signed under penalty of perjury.
In other words, there's really no "there" there. But that didn't stop Gretchen Carlson, who leaped right into opposite-land with her lead story this morning. Watch, as she reports the original story with no correction.
As for the claim that conservative groups were the ones targeted, I would suggest that conservative groups were the ones who submitted applications claiming they were all about social welfare when they were in fact simply conduits for dark money.
All of this simply proves there is no editorial oversight at Fox News whatsoever. Townhall.com has more oversight than Fox. If any evidence was needed that Fox News serves as the echo chamber for conservative online media, this should do it.