An unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling lie. — A. Huxley

The right-wing media continues to throw out smoke screens in the form of debunked hoax-scandals in an attempt to deflect focus from Chris Christie’s NJ Bridgegate.

The latest is the claim that the mainstream media is giving more attention to Bridgegate than they did to the IRS scandal of last year.

The truth is that there was intense initial focus on the claim that the IRS was targeting right-wing/Tea Party groups but as emerging facts contradicted this claim, the media’s ADD kicked in big time and they checked out in search of fresh sensationalism.

The Hindenburg turned quickly into a toy balloon, deflating flatulently on its way to a dead stop.

Which is a problem because the early hyped reporting persists in public memory while the less sexy truth-of-the-matter is much less well known or understood.

The bold and simple story that ran wild was that the IRS had abused its wildly unpopular powers to put the big-government screws to right-wing groups; targeting the Tea Party for their political views in a tyrannical crackdown.

Wow, sort of confirms what the Tea Party has been trying to warn us about all along. TIME TO HIT THE ALL CAPS AND GO BALLISTIC!!!

Except that none of it was at all accurate.

The more mundane fact is that the IRS has the unenviable (and understaffed) task of making determinations as to which applying groups are eligible for special tax exempt 501c(4) status.

Having this status is not automatic, not a right. Under the law, It is a privilege conferred on organizations who are deemed to promote the social welfare and who do not unduly engage in partisan politics.

This system has been increasingly abused especially in the wake of the gutting of campaign finance laws, bringing on an avalanche of groups looking to set up as non-profits as a front for dark-money-funded political activity.

The IRS was overwhelmed by an influx of newly formed Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status in the run up to the 2012 elections.

IRS and Tea Party

Opposition to social welfare is pretty much the Tea Party’s reason for existing. That and ad hominem political attacks against Democrats, especially against President Barack (where’s the birth certificate!) Obama. Why would such rabidly partisan groups not be subject to specific review?

Even the assertion, however, that they were singled out was blatantly false. Lost in the right-wing media screeching and theatrics was the fact that not a single Tea Party group was denied status (they were merely sent follow up questionnaires to their applications) while a progressive group was denied.

Indeed, an FBI investigation concluded there was no illegal activity as the IRS checked up on groups with “Occupy” and “Progressive” in their names with the same zeal as Tea Party applicants.

To sum up, the IRS was simply doing its job under difficult conditions. And despite the conspiracy narrative of the right, they did it in a balanced way and bent over backwards to give the benefit of the doubt as to the partisan nature of Tea Party groups seeking the tax free benefit of 501c(4) designation.

But since so many media consumers did not have the benefit of the full story and only heard the sensationalized conspiratorial version, it continues to be trotted out as a diversionary tool to protect Governor Christie from his reality-based debacle.

Here again, right-wing media voices are asking us to go on hunting unicorns and to give a big fat pass to the all too real elephant in the room.

We shouldn’t let them get away with it.