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Report: TV abandons IRS scandal; just 14 stories in 10 months as issue rages again

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Tea Party,ABC,CBS,NBC,IRS,Darrell Issa,House Ways and Means Committee,Media,Conservatism,Lois Lerner

Despite continued news about how the IRS targeted conservative and Tea Party groups leading up to President Obama's re-election and the possibility that former tax official Lois Lerner could be imprisoned by the House for contempt, the Big Three TV networks have dropped the scandal like it never happened.

According to a new Media Research Center report, ABC, CBS and NBC have provided just 14 reports about the scandal over the last 10 months, compared to 136 when it broke in May 2013.

What happened? According to the conservative media watchdog, when a Democratic report was issued in June 2013 suggesting that liberal groups were targeted equally by the IRS, the major media gave up coverage, even though that report was widely rejected, even by Treasury's inspector general.

Since then, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted along party lines to recommend that the full House hold Lerner in contempt. A Roll Call report even suggested that the House, after voting, could imprison her.

“The reality is that after this report, the broadcast networks essentially stopped covering the IRS scandal, as if all reasonable observers now agreed it was over,” said MRC’s study about the partisan report suggesting Democrats were equally targeted. “Even as the investigation uncovered new evidence affirming that conservatives were uniquely targeted, and as evidence mounted that the IRS was stonewalling congressional efforts to uncover the truth, ABC, CBS and NBC maintained an almost-absolute moratorium on news about the scandal,” wrote MRC’s Research Director Rich Noyes.

He suggested that when the House votes as early as this week to hold Lerner in contempt, that the networks get back on the story.

“That occasion is as good a time as any for the broadcast networks to remedy this egregious bias by omission, and tell viewers about all of the damning developments in the story since the Big Three last provided real coverage of the IRS’s scandalous treatment of conservative groups,” wrote Noyes.

What’s more, today the House Ways and Means Committee, which has also led a probe into the affair, will quiz IRS officials on the scandal and the 2013 return season.

“The IRS has a long way to go in restoring public trust after the unprecedented targeting scandal,” said Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Louisiana Republican and chair of the committee's oversight panel.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.