Fox Helps House GOP Chairmen Presume Guilt Ahead Of IRS Hearings
Fox News has repeatedly allowed its airwaves to be used as a venue for House Republican chairmen to appear before hearings into possible abuses at the Internal Revenue Service, often to make unproven allegations about the White House's role.
The IRS' inspector general has said  that while employees used "improper critiera" to scrutinize conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, that behavior was "not politically biased" and was not driven by the White House. Even Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa have acknowledged  that there is "no evidence" the White House ordered the scrutiny.
Nonetheless, House Republicans have repeatedly made such claims while previewing their hearings into alleged abuses on Fox News, frequently without any pushback from the network's anchors.
Today on Fox's America's Newsroom Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, appeared with Bill Hemmer ahead of his committee's hearing into the IRS' alleged abuses.
Camp said the hearing would feature people "who have had their First Amendment rights targeted because of their beliefs." Hemmer later asked Camp if he believed "the objective was to slow down the organization, so that these political groups don't get - I guess - any steam or energy behind them?"
Hemmer also told Camp that since the issue was related to taxes, "this is right down the plate for you guys" and asked him if the alleged abuses made the case for conservative tax reform.
This policy of "accuse first and ask questions later," as described  by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank,has been frequently on display on Fox's airwaves. As Milbank points out, Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) appeared with Hemmer on Monday to claim that "the enemies list out of the White House that IRS was engaged in shutting down or trying to shut down the conservative political viewpoint across the country -- an enemies list that rivals that of another president some time ago."
Milbank notes that Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) also appeared on Fox before heading a hearing about the IRS in front of the Appropriations Committee, making the claim that "instructions on who to target and how to target were coming from Washington without any debate."
Fox News has been at the forefront of promoting falsehoods about the ongoing IRS investigation. They haverepeated  unsubstantiated claims made by Republicans investigating the issue, invented  involvement by members of the Obama administration, and claimed  that President Obama somehow created a "culture" that led to IRS abuse even if he did not specifically order it.