There’s been a lot of debate lately about scandals, with different sides proclaiming or denying said scandals exist.

I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve come to the realization that it all depends on your definition of scandal.

If you think there has to be actual wrongdoing before there is a scandal, then you may be in the minority. The way the word keeps getting used, it seems most people consider anything they don’t like to be a “scandal.”

Take Benghazi. There is no evidence that there was any wrongdoing, even though there may have been mistakes and bad decisions made. I don’t consider that a scandal.

Or the IRS. Apparently the people who made the decision to investigate groups that are against taxes to make sure they really are non-profit were conservative Republican Bush appointees. Has there been any evidence to show that this was done for political reasons? None whatsoever, and the people involved have said as much. Were there any laws broken? Doesn’t seem so. Does it look bad? Oh, absolutely. Does that make it a scandal?

Then there’s the NSA phone and email situation. It appears that this is all allowed under the Patriot Act, has been approved by Congress many times, and has been in existence since the Bush administration. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence any laws were broken. If there is a scandal, it’s that Obama broke his promise to stop doing this.

For that matter, it appears that the seizing of AP phone records was done properly under law, too.

So I’m having difficulty finding “scandal.” I certainly don’t like the situation with the NSA and the AP and am against these kinds of intrusions on privacy and freedom of the press, but the solution is to change the laws so that this is not allowed and to hold Obama responsible for doing these things in the first place.

But that doesn’t make them scandals.

I am open to evidence, however. If you have proof that laws were broken or actual wrongdoing took place, let me know. I am certainly willing to acknowledge it when it happens.

Editorial cartoon of the day

Editorial cartoon of the day

Why does the mainstream media avoid Obama scandals?

This is a common question those on the right ask. Why doesn’t the mainstream media cover Obama scandals?

Well, the answer is simple: They do. As we can see from the IRS scandal and the Associated Press scandal, both of which were the main stories on the nightly news and front pages, the media loves scandal (Just ask Anthony Weiner). Scandals get ratings and sell papers. It has nothing to do with ideology.Obama-shrug

But they love real scandals, not made-up ones.

Right wing blogs, following Fox News’ lead, cry about made-up scandals all the time. Benghazi, birth certificates, umbrellas, or whatever silly thing they are obsessing over never make the “mainstream media” not because the other news sources are in Obama’s pocket, but because there is no news there. They’re fantasy scandals, and honest and legitimate news sources know that.

Much of the “mainstream media” is actually quite conservative. Many newspapers endorsed Romney and write editorials critical of Obama. But even they aren’t covering these “scandals” because they (unlike Fox) have journalistic integrity.

But the people who believe these things tend to be more paranoid than the average American. Many of these people also believe the government is out to install a dictatorship and take all our guns and install Sharia Law — and that the Illuminati or something controls the White House with help from the aliens in Area 51 and what-have-you.

So the inability of these people to understand that there is no vast liberal media conspiracy kind of makes sense, because they tend to believe in other things that don’t exist — like the Benghazi scandal.

The latest IRS scandal

Let me if I can figure this out from the information currently available…

After the Citizen’s United decision, a huge amount of new political groups popped up and claimed tax exempt status. The large chunk of these were inspired by Karl Rove and carried names like “Tea Party Against Taxes” and other such things.

The head of the IRS is a non-political position that is appointed by the President for a 6 year term. It is fairly independent of the Presidency after that. George W. Bush, in one of his last actions before leaving, appointed Douglas Shulman to be Chair, and Obama was stuck with him for his entire first administration.

When Shulman saw the doubling of applications for tax exempt status, he opened an office in Cleveland with the responsibility of reviewing them. This office then decided “Hey, you know, groups that are anti-tax probably are the ones most likely to file false claims for tax exemption.” While that is probably true, what they did next was wrong: They targeted any group with the words “Tea Party” or similar right-wing key words, looking for applications that should be denied. (And, as an aside, they did find some.)

Still, targeting groups based on the position they hold clearly violates the 1st Amendment and was absolutely wrong.

Everyone agrees on that point, including Obama, who has called the action “outrageous.”

This has not appeased the right-wing conspiracy buffs who are sure that this was an edict from Obama in the first place — as if the President decided to order the head of the IRS — a Bush appointee — to stupidly target groups and the Bush appointee went along with it without a word. And people are buying it. They’re actually believing that happened.

As we all know from the Benghazi hearings, the lack of evidence has never stood in the way of a good witch hunt.