The admission by the IRS that its workers targeted conservative Tea Party groups was so scandalous even some of the liberals at MSNBC felt compelled to condemn the tax agency. On Friday's edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports substitute host Chris Cillizza exclaimed he was "stunned" by the "dumbness" of the IRS.
Cillizza's Washington Post colleague, Ruth Marcus called the revelations "outrageous." Marcus added: "The absolute worst thing that the IRS can do is make itself look political/ideological and to make it look like it's picking on some political groups and not others. That is terrible." (video after the jump)
Guest panelist Alex Gomez of USA Today also chimed in: "I spent a lot of time with the Tea Party freshman class in 2010 when they came in. And you know very well, they came in with the sort of deep seated suspicion about the federal government and reach and the ability that they have to get into so many things. So this is just, this is going to set off quite a bit."
The following is the relevant exchange from the May 10 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTON POST: Ruth, busy news day, but I don't want to leave you guys without mentioning this story which I was just stunned is I think the word by. The IRS admitted today that some workers, local workers, this is what we know of the story at this point targeted groups that had the words "tea party" or "patriots" during the 2012 election. These are groups that the Internal Revenue Service oversees many non-profit groups have become big in the political landscape. The dumbness of doing this to me is in some ways striking. I mean the IRS is criticized roundly for not actively enforcing what they should be enforcing, much less targeting specific groups based on no real evidence. Your thoughts?
RUTH MARCUS, WASHINGTON POST: You say dumbness, I say outrageous. The IRS has to have an eye on these supposedly non-profit, non-partisan groups to make sure they're not engaging in political activity. Prior to this my complaint and my continuing complaint with the IRS is it doesn't do enough to make sure these non-partisan, non-profit groups aren't engaging in political activity.
But the absolute worst thing that the IRS can do is make itself look political/ideological and to make it look like it's picking on some political groups and not others. That is terrible, it needs to be stopped. And I would like to know more about how this happened and how it was discovered. At the same time I hope that we don't get the message "IRS hands off these groups" because they are political committees by another name.
CILLIZZA: Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, Alan, this is fascinating. This is a statement he just put out. I'm just gonna read a piece of it. "Today's acknowledgment by the Obama administration did, in fact, target conservative groups in the heat of last year's national election is not enough. Today I call on the White House to conduct a transparent government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone regardless of their political views." Sorry that was a little long. But look, this is not something that Republicans, I think, are going to say, "Whoopsie, that was an error, let's move on," correct?
ALAN GOMEZ, USA TODAY: Absolutely correct. I spent a lot of time with the Tea Party freshman class in 2010 when they came in. And you know very well, they came in with the sort of deep seated suspicion about the federal government and reach and the ability that they have to get into so many things. So this is just, this is going to set off quite a bit. I mean we're going to have all sorts of hearings on this, I imagine.
MARCUS: And could the timing be worse for the administration on the heels of Benghazi to now have this?