During Wednesday's edition of MSNBC's weeknight program “The Last Word,” host Lawrence O'Donnell responded to a statement made earlier in the day by President Obama about the Internal Revenue Service's discrimination against conservative groups seeking non-profit status: “Across the board, everybody believes” what was revealed in the report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is “an outrage.”
“Everybody but me,” O'Donnell insisted. “I believe that the IRS agents in this case did nothing wrong.”
“Let me say it again; you won’t hear it anywhere else. The IRS agents did nothing wrong,” he stated. “They were simply trying to enforce the law as the IRS has understood it since 1959.”
The liberal host then referred to Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, which defines tax-exempt social welfare groups as:
Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.
“For 54 years, the IRS has gotten away with the crime of changing the word ‘exclusively’ to ‘primarily,'” O’Donnell said. “The IRS took a hard, clear word like ‘exclusively’ and changed it into a soft word, ’primarily,’ and then left it to the IRS agents to determine if your organization was primarily concerned with the promotion of social welfare.”
The host began that evening's program by stating:
With the political media dizzy from a very bad bout of scandal fever, the president decided today that the only thing that can get that fever to go down would be to show the political media that he is taking charge of scandal management in the White House, even though there are no real scandals in Washington involving the White House in any way.
No real scandals involving the Whie House? Has O'Donnell never heard of the phrase that "the buck stops here?"
Nevertheless, O'Donnell continued: “All of Washington, Democrats and Republicans, now believe they have a real scandal in what the Internal Revenue Service did, and today, the president tried to show that he was taking charge."
The liberal host then played a clip of Obama addressing the IRS situation with a statement he made earlier in the day regarding the agency's discrimination against “conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.”
I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable. It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.
“I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives,” Obama continued before stating that “it should not matter what political stripe you’re from -- the fact of the matter is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.”
“First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable,” the president said. Part of that step was taken on Wednesday by treasury secretary Jack Lew, who requested and accepted the resignation of Steven Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS, “because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.”
In addition, Obama said he will “put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again” and “will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role” since the federal government “owes it” to the American people to treat the matter “in a fair and impartial way.”
Not surprisingly, guest Ari Melber, a co-host of MSNBC's ensemble show “The Cycle,” agreed with O'Donnell's analysis and bizarrely took advantage of the opportunity to bash House Republicans for being a “blame Obama first crowd.”
Larry O'Connor from Breitbart.com had a different take on the matter:
Lawrence O'Donnell likes to march to the beat of a different drummer. And in the case of Wednesday night's edition of "The Last Word" on MSNBC, he marched away from just about everyone in the media and politics by maintaining that the IRS scandal is much ado about nothing.
The host of weaselzippers.com joined in by stating: “Leave it to O’Donnell to say something this ridiculously stupid.”
On Thursday afternoon, Obama took another step to minimize the political damage he's receiving because of the IRS incident. The president announced that Daniel Werfel, current controller of the Office of Management and Budget, would be named acting IRS chief effective May 22.
In a news release, Obama stated:
The American people deserve to have the utmost confidence and trust in their government, and as we work to get to the bottom of what happened and restore confidence in the IRS, Danny has the experience and management ability necessary to lead the agency at this important time.
It's odd to hear the Democratic president brandish the word “conservative” with no venom in its use. If we can just convince him and his fellow Democrats to stop using the word “extreme” whenever they talk about Republicans, that would be “progressive.”