Scott Pelley devoted a minute and a half segment to the IRS scandal on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, the first time that the Big Three newscast had mentioned the issue in a month. Pelley asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew if "any political appointee had oversight of the decisions that were made around the Tea Party applications", and reported on some of the recent developments in the scandal.
Mere hours later, Thursday's CBS This Morning didn't even cover the IRS portion of the Lew interview, but did play a clip of Pelley asking the Cabinet official about the economy.
Seven minutes into the evening news broadcast, the CBS anchor noted that "Republicans have been interested in the scandal in the IRS, and the new treasury secretary also oversees that agency. So we wanted to ask about the allegations of political targeting of Tea Party organizations that were applying for tax-exempt status."
Pelley continued that a "congressional investigation raised new questions about this last week. Then, retired IRS attorney Carter Hull testified that he was asked to pass applications from Tea Party organizations up to the IRS Office of General Counsel in Washington...Hull's testimony raised the question of whether the agency's top attorney...was involved. That's important, because the general counsel is appointed by the President."
The journalist then played part of his interview with Lew, who denied that there was any political targeting of conservative groups. He didn't push back against the Obama administration's answer, despite mentioning Hull's claim earlier in the segment:
JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: Scott, there's been an awful lot of effort put into this investigation...through the inspector general; the Justice Department looking at it; multiple congressional committees. There has been...no evidence of the involvement of any political appointee – in making these decisions. And, you know, there are a lot of lawyers at the IRS. There's only one who's a political appointee.
PELLEY: Has any political appointee had oversight of the decisions that were made around the Tea Party applications?
LEW: There has been no evidence of anyone in a political position having been involved in any of those decisions.
Pelley had asked at least one other question on the issue, but didn't play it on CBS Evening News. Instead, it was uploaded on CBSNews.com:
PELLEY: Are you satisfied today that politics is wrung out of the IRS and does not influence the decisions that are made there?
LEW: With all of the investigation that's gone on, there has been no evidence of any political decision-making in the IRS. There was clearly bad judgment. The President said that. I said that. We put in place a new acting commissioner, who has done what he was asked to do; to get to the bottom of it; and to go forward – building a strong IRS that the public can be confident in.
It should be pointed out that over the course of three days, the Big Three's morning newscasts have devoted 187 minutes of air time to the birth of the newborn Prince of Cambridge. By contrast, they've devoted just 157 minutes over two and a half months to the IRS scandals. The networks certainly have their priorities straight.