Unless you are a glutton for punishment, you may not have heard the latest buzz in the conservative media – that IRS head Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times. “Bombshell Discovery” and “Smoking Gun” were among the thoughtful cautious and judicious phrases chosen to describe this fact since the only possible interpretation was that Shulman was getting near-daily marching orders directly from Obama on how to most savagely persecute the Tea Party.
But then that big spoilsport Josh Marshall has to come along and ruin the fun. As he says:
In a few words, most of the right-wing press is just astonishingly bad.
Here’s today’s example. Yesterday I heard word on Twitter that ex-IRS Chief Douglas Shulman had visited the White House a whopping 157 times. The story started at The Daily Caller. It’s not totally clear whether that was whopping or sub-whopping. But whatever.
He then lets Garance Franke-Ruta present the facts:
The public meeting schedules available for review to any media outlet show that very thing: Shulman was cleared primarily to meet with administration staffers involved in implementation of the health-care reform bill. He was cleared 40 times to meet with Obama’s director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts. That’s 76 percent of his planned White House visits just there, before you even add in all the meetings with Office of Management and Budget personnel also involved in health reform.
But it gets better. Those 157 visits? Those are times he was ‘cleared’ to visit the White House. The logs only show he actually showed up 11 times. It’s quite possible that the records missed a couple visits. But it seems likely that the story – which originated at The Daily Caller – was off by about ten fold.
He then concludes:
Now, this isn’t an indictment of [all] conservative journalists… But as a group, the standards of most institutional right wing journalism are just so appallingly bad that their stories simply aren’t credible.
But, hey, wait just a darn minute. If — as the Daily Caller also reported — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was giving money to “Friends of Hamas” at the same time that the IRS was involved in tax discussions about setting up Death Panels under Obamacare, then maybe it was actually Hagel who was passing information on how to persecute the Tea Party groups from Obama over to Shulman using his contacts in the “Friends of Hamas” as intermediaries.