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Thursday, June 20, 2013
NewsBusters' Sheffield Plays the Bureaucrat-Whisperer Card
Topic: NewsBusters

In a June 18 article at the far-right American Spectator (excerpted in part at NewsBusters), NewsBusters managing editor Matthew Sheffield blames President Obama for creating the climate in which the IRS felt it was just peachy to subject conservative activist nonprofit groups to extra scrutiny:

The persistent lies that have been told about right-leaning political groups by leading Democrats, including President Obama himself, may have led to the IRS abuses of power that we’ve heard so much about in recent weeks.

Even assuming that the Internal Revenue Service decided to target conservative groups without explicit orders, the fact is that Obama and other Democrats have been smearing conservatives for so long with vague but outrageous charges of criminality, it’s no wonder that some bureaucratic goons decided to harass “tea party” and “patriot” groups.


At this stage of the investigation of the IRS scandal, it is unclear whether the Obama White House or other top Democratic politicians directed the tax enforcement agency to deliberately audit Tea Party groups and to delay their applications for tax-exempt status. What is clear is that President Obama and fellow Democrats, with the willing assistance from the supposedly “objective” media, created a climate of intimidation and slander that quite easily could have spurred the IRS to abuse its power.

Ah, the ol' "bureaucrat whisperer" ploy. As Media Matters' Simon Maloy details, "This is a popular argument because it allows for literally anything to be brought forward as evidence of Obama's culpability. Any conservative hobbyhorse or perceived slight by Obama or anyone remotely connected to Obama ... can be easily recast as part of the president's alleged campaign to undermine the tea party via innuendo and pseudo-telepathy."

Sheffield goes on to whine: "If Republicans decided to go around making such outrageous accusations without providing a shred of proof for them, you can bet that the media would have attacked them mercilessly just as they did radio host Rush Limbaugh after he insulted left-wing activist Sandra Fluke." This is the same guy who uncritically bought Limbaugh's self-serving apology to Fluke that was more of a CYA operation in the face of mounting criticism and advertiser boycotts than anything genuinely "heartfelt" and "sincere," as Limbaugh insisted it was.

And this is the same Matthew Sheffield who expressed glee that one advertiser who withdrew from Limbaugh's show due to his three-day tirade of misogyny against Fluke saw its profits go down.

This is just another example of Sheffield's attempt to be some kind of right-wing new-media guru descending into mere repetition of tired conservative talking points.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 PM EDT

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