SMIDGEN REPORT SPECIAL UPDATE: IRS Created ‘Special Project Team’ of ‘Hundreds of Lawyers’ to Hide Information from CongressPosted: June 5, 2015
The American Center for Law and Justice‘s Jay Sekulow reports: New testimony reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) used “hundreds of attorneys” to hide critical information from Congress’s investigation of the IRS targeting of conservatives.
According to new congressional bombshell testimony today, the IRS set up a previously unknown “special project team” comprised of “hundreds of attorneys,” including the IRS Chief Counsel (one of only two politically appointed positions at the IRS).
The “special project” this team was given? Concealing information from Congress.
The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison, and disclosure division, Mary Howard, testified that soon after the IRS targeting scandal was revealed, the IRS “amassed hundreds of attorneys to go through the documents [requested by Congress] and redact them.”
Members of Congress have long complained that many of the documents produced by the IRS have been “redacted to the point of absurdity.”
Now we know why.
As the Washington Times reports:
Mary Howard, who also works as the head Freedom of Information Act officer in the IRS, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information.
“My understanding was that it started soon after the request came from Congress and other investigators asking for documents around this whole issue,” which she surmised meant around spring of 2013.
In other words, as soon as the IRS targeting scandal broke, the IRS set up a special team of hundreds of attorneys, including President Obama’s political head of the Chief Counsel’s office, to keep requests for publicly available information away from the person who would normally review those documents and turn them over to Congress and the public. That “special” team then overly redacted, delayed, and determined which documents it wanted Congress to see.
After setting up a special “group” to target and delay applications by Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status, the IRS set up a new “special project team” to delay and redact information from Congress about that targeting. Can you smell a cover-up? Read the rest of this entry »
The former CBS reporter believes her work computers were hacked by government operatives—and fiercely denies accusations of political bias.
“I’m not a conservative. I’m not a liberal. I really am one of those people who are mixed on many issues and can see many legitimate sides. If that makes them feel better to call me a conservative, if that explains in their minds why I’m covering a particular story, that’s okay. It really is.”
“I don’t care what people think. I’m trying to do what I think is right. Sometimes I rub people the wrong way, although I’m very polite.”
“I said to Jim I may never work again and he had to be okay with that,” she tells The Daily Beast, referring to her spouse of 30 years, retired attorney and law enforcement officer James Attkisson. “It took him some time before he said ‘okay.’ I knew I had to work somewhere else, where I could report on some of the stuff I was reporting on. Clearly, it would be a different ballgame.”
“When the White House calls them to complain, instead of saying, ‘The story is accurate, so don’t call and scream at me,’ they get distraught. They don’t want the White House to be upset with them. They would much rather have the White House call and say, ‘I like the story you did.’ I don’t know why they care, but they do.”
Attkisson, 53, the mother of a 19-year-old daughter (“College is paid-for,” she says with relief), had toiled for two decades in the network news division’s Washington bureau, exposing government and corporate malfeasance, scorching Republicans and Democrats alike, and racking up Emmys and other prestigious journalism awards.
[Order Sharyl Attkisson’s book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington from Amazon]
Indeed, she says her career at CBS was going pretty well until Barack Obama and his team of belligerent spinmeisters arrived in the White House—and then things went gradually, inexorably, south, as her superiors folded under pressure and it became increasingly difficult to get her stories on the air. Read the rest of this entry »
“Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy.”
That’s the opening sentence of the Associated Press’ story on the IRS’ claim that it lost an unknown number of emails over two years relating to the agency’s alleged targeting of political groups hostile to the president.
But note how the AP casts the story: The investigators — Republican lawmakers — are outraged.
Is it really so hard to imagine that if this were a Republican administration, the story wouldn’t be the frustration of partisan critics of the president? It would be all about that administration’s behavior. With the exception of National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who called for a special prosecutor to bypass the White House’s “stonewalling,” and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, it’s hard to find a non-conservative journalist who thinks this is a big deal.
Let’s back up for a moment. Read the rest of this entry »
Reason TV Interview with Former CBS Reporter Sharyl Attkisson: ‘If we knew everything then that we know now…’Posted: May 3, 2014
Attkisson sat down with Reason TV‘s Nick Gillespie to discuss her reporting on Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the decline of investigative journalism in America. About 20 minutes. Camera by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Edited by Amanda Winkler
“If we knew everything then that we know now, one week after it happened, I think that would have been really devastating to [Obama’s reelection] campaign,” says former CBS reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, referencing the 2012 Benghazi terrorists attacks. Recently revealed White House emails suggest that the Obama administration may have attempted to mislead the American public by placing the blame on an Internet video and not Islamic terrorists, which would have raised questions about Obama’s foreign policy strategy.
[See Sharyl Attkisson’s book: Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington at Amazon.com]
Attkisson, an award winning investigative reporter, was one of the few journalists who continued pursuing the Benghazi story long after many in the main stream media lost interest. According to Attkisson, her bosses at CBS wanted her to drop the story. As a result, she left CBS, her employer for two decades, this past March over what she claims is “liberal bias” at the network and a lack of serious devotion to investigative reporting.
(read more)…Two major pieces of news surrounding Benghazi happened this week. The first: Emails showing Ben Rhodes edited talking points, proving the White House had a direct role in editing after a previous denial. The second: Retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell, who was in charge of Africa Command at the time of the Benghazi attack, said he was never given orders from the State Department to send help to Americans on September 11, 2012.
Guess who didn’t mention any of this on their broadcast last night? CBS News. Other networks also failed to cover the story.
NBC, CBS Ignore Congressional Hearing on Benghazi; ABC Gives It Only 46 Seconds http://t.co/HqCczxzzaF
— NewsBusters (@newsbusters) May 2, 2014
It’s no surprise CBS News repeatedly squashed investigations into Benghazi by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. She left the network earlier this year.
“[Media Matters] clearly targeted me at some point. They used to work with me on stories, try to help me, you know, produce my stories,” Attkisson told CNN’s Brian Stelter Sunday. But that changed, she said, because of work she did that bothered the Left. Read the rest of this entry »
Daily Caller Asks: Did Sharyl Attkisson Get too Close to the Truth? Attkisson Free from Unethical Environment at CBS NewsPosted: April 14, 2014
Patrick Howley writes: Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who said Sunday that the network did not want to deal with the “headache” of covering Obama controversies, seems happy to be free from the network.
And why not? CBS News is run by the brother of the Obama official Attkisson was pursuing for one of the very stories that earned her “troublemaker” status in the CBS newsroom.
Attkisson also recently said that she was routinely discouraged from pursuing Obama administration scandals like Fast and Furious and Benghazi.
ATTKISSON: I didn’t run into that same kind of sentiment [at CBS] as I did in the Obama administration when I covered the Bush administration very aggressively, on its secrecy and lack of Freedom of Information responses, and its poor management of the Food and Drug Administration and the national laboratories, the Halliburton-Iraq questions of fraud. I mean, there was one thing after another. The bait-and-switch of TARP, the bank bailout program. All of those stories under Bush were met with a good reception. There were different managers as well, but no one accused me of being a mouthpiece for the liberals at that time.
Attkisson told Kurtz that the White House would pressure her to change or drop her reporting, and when that didn’t work, they worked her bosses instead. Kurtz asked how this differed from the “working the refs” actions that go on all the time in Washington, and Attkisson says that it went too far.
“It’s just a lot of obfuscation, accusations, saying things are ‘phony scandals,’ ‘bogus,’ ‘not real,’ giving misinformation and false information. I mean, that’s provably true in some cases.”
Mediaite‘s transcript captures Attkisson’s complaint about broadcast journalism in the age of Obama:
ATTKISSON:Now there’ve always been tensions, there have always been calls from the White House under any administration I assume, when they don’t like a particular story. But it is particularly aggressive under the Obama administration and I think it’s a campaign that’s very well organized, that’s designed to have sort of a chilling effect and to some degree has been somewhat successful in getting broadcast producers who don’t really want to deal with the headache of it — why put on these controversial stories that we’re going to have to fight people on, when we can fill the broadcast with other perfectly decent stories that don’t ruffle the same feathers?
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Chris Stigall talked to former CBS News Reporter Sharyl Attkisson this morning on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT about the trouble reporters have to deal with while covering politicians and the government, as well as the current state of investigative reporting.
“Nobody was interested in the stories. It didn’t seem to matter what the topic was. There’s sort of a problem all over, I talk to my colleagues in different mediums. There’s just a lot of pressure. Investigative reporting gets a lot of backlash. They don’t quite know how to deal with it. Why not just put on stories that don’t draw that kind of response?”
— Sharyl Attkisson
Responding to comments regarding a Phoenix television reporter yesterday who initially claimed that the White House pre-screens questions from reporters, Attkisson said, “I wouldn’t surprised if sometimes there is that level of cooperation with some questions. If I need something answered from the White House and they won’t tell me, I’ll call our White House Correspondent. They’re friendlier with the White House Correspondents in general. So the White House Correspondent may ask Jay Carney or one of his folks about an issue and they will be told ‘ask that at the briefing and we’ll answer it.’ They want to answer it in front of everybody. They do know it’s coming and they’ll call on you. There’s that kind of coordination sometimes. I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s sometimes more coordination. I don’t think it’s everybody on every briefing, every day. I’m pretty sure it’s not. But I think people would be surprised at the level of cooperation reporters have in general with politicians.”
Breitbart.com‘s John Sexton reports: Earlier today Sharyl Attkisson announced on Twitter that she was leaving CBS News. Early reports suggest the split was “amicable” though Attkisson is said to have wanted to leave because she had grown frustrated with the network’s “liberal bias.” Specifically, she felt it was a struggle to get her work on the CBS Evening News, the network’s flagship news program.
[Talk about media bias, Politico‘s idea of a headline, no joke: The right loses its hero at CBS. Hero? What Attkisson did is uncontroversial: apply equally tough standards to the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration. This is news? Isn’t that what all reporters are supposed to do?]
The brother of a top Obama administration official is the president of CBS News
Sharyl Attkisson is currently at work on a book — tentatively titled “Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth in Obama’s Washington” — that addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the administration.
She hasn’t landed in the top 20 since.
In a quick chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, Tyndall said that Attkisson tallied a mere 54 minutes on “The CBS Evening News” in 2013, a third of her previous totals. That was good for a ranking of 78th among network news reporters. “She was obviously being sidelined,” says Tyndall.
So Attkisson did not imagine that her status at CBS had changed, it really did. And given that it changed after 2009 when she started to focus on the Obama administration it stretches credulity to suggest that this was not a primary reason for the sudden change.
CBS: Report the Facts, Follow the Truth Wherever it Leads, Hold the Administration Accountable (Except when a Democrat is in the White House)
Although Politico received no comment from Attkisson other than the split was amicable, the left-wing outlet is reporting that Attkisson left due to the network’s “liberal bias.” This split is ahead of her contract. “She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her packages on television.”
Politico writes that Attkisson became “a polarizing figure at the network.” Some saw a political agenda in her work. Politico adds:
The bulk of Attkisson’s work since 2009 has focused on the failures or perceived failures of the Obama administration, including the administration’s failed green energy investments and the attack in Benghazi, though she has reported on several Republican failures as well.