Once allegations have been discredited, the underlying story is dead. There's really no way to take a phony scandal that's already over and make it even more over.
And yet, those who cling desperately to the IRS "controversy" have somehow managed to hit the bottom of the barrel, drill a hole, and then work their way below the bottom of the barrel, apparently unaware of the extent to which they're embarrassing themselves.
The Daily Caller -- yes, thatDaily Caller -- was the latest to try to revive the story this week, running a piece this week on an April 2012 meeting between President Obama and William Wilkins, the IRS chief counsel. This was obviously proof, conservatives said, of ... something. Fox News was thrilled.
The implication, of course, is that the rascally Obama, despite all of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, secretly ordered the IRS attorney to ask largely unknown groups seeking tax exempt status questions that might delay their paperwork. Because, you know, that's what presidents do.
Except, that's not at all what this president did.
The IRS political appointee at the epicenter of insinuations that the Obama White House directed the targeting of tea party groups never discussed the issue with the president, a spokesman for the tax agency told The Huffington Post. [....]
"On April 23, 2012, William Wilkins attended an inter-agency outreach meeting at the White House with the president and a range of senior-appointed officials from various government agencies," IRS spokesman Bruce Friedland said. "No IRS matters or tax issues were discussed. Wilkins did not meet with anyone else at the White House that day."
Sure, they denied it. That's just what we'd expect them to do. But if we look closer at what the IRS did around that time? Maybe that'll bolster the allegations?
Actually, the opposite is true.
From the Huffington Post's piece:
It was roughly at that time that the IRS was attempting to tone down the "Be On The Lookout" lists it used for screening 501c4 applicants. According to the Treasury inspector general's report that looked into the IRS screening, the BOLO criteria in January 2012 was: "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the constitution and bill of rights, social economic reform/movement"
By May 2012, the IRS BOLO had been changed to this: "501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (raising questions as to exempt purpose and/or excess private benefit)."
If Wilkins had, as has been suggested, taken the president's order to make life miserable for the tea party, the revised IRS guidelines seemed to move in the opposite direction.
What we're left with, then, is the latest in an unbroken pattern: literally every allegation raised by the right in this story has been proven wrong.
I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the dead-enders on this story.