Obama Backtracks on IRS' Targeting of Conservative Groups; No Longer Thinks It's a Scandal

President Barack Obama complained Thursday about liberals who were concerned about the IRS' targeting of conservative groups.

The media too often reports on negative stories, rather than the positive things that government accomplishes, Obama noted Thursday in an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

For an example of negative media coverage, Obama spoke about the scandal over the IRS harassment of conservative groups, and suggested it was not a serious scandal.

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Obama excused the IRS actions, saying that the IRS was "for bureaucratic reasons ... trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret about whether a nonprofit is actually a political organization deserves a tax exempt agency.

"And they've got a list, and suddenly everybody's outraged."

Obama then complained that some of the outrage came from liberals. His wording, though, by adding the words "so-called" and "perceived to be" also suggested that anyone who believed the IRS scandal was serious is not a true liberal.

"There are some so-called progressives and perceived-to-be liberal commentators who, during that week, were just as outraged at the possibility that these folks had been, at the direction of the Democratic Party, in some way discriminated against," he said.

Ironically, among the "so-called progressives" who expressed outrage at the time was Obama himself.

In a May 13 speech after news about the IRS scandal broke, Obama called the IRS actions "outrageous."

"If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. And there's no place for it," he said. "And they have to be held fully accountable. Because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they're ... applying the laws in a nonpartisan way."

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