The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Daily Show’ goes long on IRS incompetence

On a day when…

* MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the New York Times and just about the entire mainstream media for going light on the IRS political targeting story; and

* Fox News’s Andrea Tantaros said that insufficient coverage of the Monday night Capitol Hill hearing on the IRS scandal amounted to “the death of legitimate journalism”…

… Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” devoted a 10-minute segment to the goings-on. The host had no trouble filling the airtime, given the IRS’s actions and non-actions in this drama. Riffing off the fact that the hard drive of former IRS official Lois Lerner melted down in 2011 and the agency saved e-mails for only six-month periods, Stewart said: “The government agency whose entire business model depends on forcing Americans to live as borderline hoarders only keeps their [inaudible] for six months? No. No, that’s unacceptable. You never get a notice from the IRS saying, ‘Please bring your records down to us if you can find them.’ ”

Then Stewart asked: “Even if the IRS deleted the tapes, why can’t they just get the e-mails from her inbox? … Each IRS employee’s e-mail box back then only held 150 megabytes of information. Also known as five pictures of your family. Or one picture of Anthony Weiner’s [penis].”

Behind the tech problems, Stewart saw a “larger scandal”: “Our government’s handling of information across all platforms borders on criminal idiocy. The IRS is frying hard drives, the VA is drowning in paper.”

In all, not the sort of investigative report that the cable-news media-critique brigade may have desired, but there’s a good spotted owl joke in there.