When I first heard the Kochs had their eye on the Tribune Company, including the Los Angeles Times, I knew we were in for trouble. Despite much resistance, there is a distinct possibility that they will open up their checkbook and buy these newspapers. But even if they don't, it certainly looks like the editorial staff of at least one of them has decided to court them with a tailor-made editorial.
It's rare to see an editorial with so many factual errors published by a major newspaper not owned by Rupert Murdoch, but that's what the Tribune printed in today's paper under the banner of the editorial board.
The editorial continues to flog the now-dead IRS 'scandal that wasn't', calling for a special prosecutor. It misstates the number of conservative non-profits which were targeted. It ignores the fact that J. Russell George, the IG who wrote the initial report and testified before Congress, has revealed that he acquiesced to Rep. Darrell Issa's command to limit his investigation to potential conservative groups. Finally, they ask questions which are intended to revive the whole 'scandal' claim about something which is really not a scandal.
So that's where things stand — until fresh reporting, a document leak or perhaps a confession sends the story in some new direction. But seven weeks into this scandal, the fact most Americans know best is that ... they still don't know much that's definitive. The murky intrigue over who provoked what at this agency has become a playpen for politicians. Three among many crucial questions still scream for answers:
•Did someone nudge IRS employees to hassle certain groups or did agency officials spontaneously decide to do that?
•Inspector General George has testified that in June 2012, five months before the election, he told top Treasury Department officials of his probe into IRS targeting. Did his news, with its potential to rock the presidential campaign, stop atop Treasury — or did it make its way even higher in the administration?
•At multiple points in 2012, why did top IRS officials repeatedly mislead Congress by not disclosing — in response to highly specific questions — that the agency was targeting conservative groups?
We can only speculate on which tools will unlock the grimy secrets of this egregious misuse of government authority. An ongoing self-examination by the IRS is laughably untrustworthy. The U.S. Department of Justice also is on the case.
But as we wrote May 23, many Americans won't be much interested in what one arm of the Obama administration concludes about the conduct of other arms — the IRS, the Treasury and possibly the White House. There are times when only a special prosecutor has the independence and credibility to resolve such a politically fraught matter.
Not to re-argue this, but any group with the word "Party" in the name should have been targeted and tossed back. Sorry, Tea Party but this is how it should have been. I'm still amazed any of those applications made it to review, so the whining is just nonsense to obfuscate the non-scandal this is.
Amazingly, the editorial concludes with a clarion call for a special prosecutor, something that would make the Kochs very, very happy. They would absolutely love to tie up this administration with a bogus, expensive, distracting and unwarranted investigation so they could continue to proliferate more and more groups taking advantage of their tax exempt status to serve the agenda of billionaires.
It wouldn't surprise me to discover this editorial was written by someone trying to seduce the Kochs into a purchase. On the other hand, perhaps it's merely an effort to work the refs, given that the company is facing a possible $500 million tax bill from asset sales during the Sam Zell era. Whatever the motive, this kind of editorial is what we will see on the front page published like it's fact if the Kochs buy the Tribune Co.