It had to happen: Politico has painted a picture of Lois Lerner as a martyr.
In a piece headlined "Lois Lerner Breaks Silence," Politico profiles the woman who took the Fifth and refused to talk to the U.S. Congress, which is investigating the targeting of tea party groups under the apparent direction of Ms. Lerner. But Lerner found time for “an exclusive, two-hour interview” with Politico. She was "unapologetic" for her role in the IRS scandal.
It was two hours well-spent for the woman who would not talk to Congress (after effectively testifying to her innocence!):
The portrait that emerges shows Lerner is, indeed, fierce, unapologetic and perhaps even tone-deaf when she says things that show her Democratic leanings. She had a quick temper and may have intimidated co-workers who could have helped her out of this mess. It’s easy to see how Republicans have seized on the image of a devilish figure cracking down on conservative nonprofits.
The Politico story puts Darrell Issa, whose congressional committee is investigating the IRS scandal, on the defensive, quoting him as saying that the GOP only “followed the trail where it leads,” with the clear implication that Issa and the Republicans were targeting Ms. Lerner rather than merely pursuing important information.
Politico goes on to describe Lerner as being called “apolitical” and fair. There is a term for this kind of story: whitewash.
The opening is worthy of a sob story:
Employers won’t hire her. She’s been berated with epithets like “dirty Jew.” Federal agents have guarded her house because of death threats. And she’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending herself against accusations she orchestrated a coverup in a scandal that has come to represent everything Americans hate about the IRS.
Of course employers won’t hire her. She took the Fifth before Congress rather than describe her actions for her last employer, the most feared agency in government. If she has ever been berated as “dirty Jew,” we are all appalled. But—frankly—there needs to be corroboration on this toxic charge. Did this really happen or is it just the sort of smear that is routinely attributed to tea party types? If Lerner has received death threats, that is obviously reprehensible. (Again, corroboration, please.)
While there is no corroboration for the claims that Mrs. Lerner was called names and received death threats, the story charts her years at the IRS and even provides touching details about her family pet (she’s into animal rescue).
There is nowhere in the story even the slightest recognition that Ms. Lerner could have avoided all this notoriety merely by going before Congress and testifying and telling the truth—unless of course she has something to hide, which is sometimes the case with people who plead the Fifth.
Politico is a liberal publication but it has generally been well-reported and a good read. I hope this kind of biased mush isn’t what we must look forward to under Politico’s new editor, Susan Glasser.