The Corner

NYT vs. WaPo on IRS, Again

In my continuing effort to assist the dead-tree deprived, here’s a comparison of today’s New York Times and Washington Post on their handling of the IRS scandal. Keep in mind that print headlines and web headlines often differ.

The Post has two front-page above-the-fold articles on the scandal, a news story and an in-depth look at the IRS in the wake of the controversy. There’s also a tough lead editorial expressing renewed outrage at the IRS’s conduct and demanding thorough reform.

Yet after the first dramatic day of congressional hearings, the Times has no front-page coverage at all of the scandal per se. Instead we have a story on President Obama’s efforts to move his agenda forward, beyond “distraction.” The Times story quotes White House aides accusing Republicans of seizing on “woes” to thwart the president’s agenda. The paper itself seems to be taking the White House line.

Just below the Times story on Obama’s attempts to move past “distraction,” a tiny squib notes that there is an article about the IRS on page 12. The teaser is: “Republicans are widening their aim at the Internal Revenue Service.” The headline of the page 12 Times article itself is: “Republicans Broaden Scope of I.R.S. Inquiry, Hoping to Entangle White House.” For comparison, the Post’s front-page news story headline is: “Panel grills IRS on tax targeting.” In other words, the Times treats the scandal as little more than a Republican-hyped distraction, while the Post takes it as a matter that should concern everyone. In contrast to the Post, there is no Times editorial on the scandal today.

Colbert King’s Op-Ed in today’s Post condemns the IRS in passing, while also trying to rescue government itself from the taint of the scandal. Times Op-Eds by Gail Collins and Charles Blow in various ways try to minimize the scandal. All the Op-Eds seem to line up fairly well with the news coverage and official editorial stances (or lack thereof) of their respective papers.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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