Tea party leader: Media apologized for not taking IRS targeting seriously last year

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At least one tea party leader has had employees at a major national newspaper and a major Ohio newspaper apologize to him for failing to take his concerns about the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party groups seriously last year, though he wouldn’t say who specifically.

“I actually have had several [members] of the media apologize to me today and yesterday,” Tom Zawistowski, former leader of the Ohio Liberty Coalition and current president of We the People Convention, Inc. and head of the Portage County Tea Party, said at a FreedomWorks roundtable event Thursday.

“They said, ‘Tom I want to apologize to you because when this story came out last year it was so over the top I didn’t believe it, and I didn’t believe it and I questioned it and I didn’t really look into it and then when the IRS commissioner came out and testified to Congress and said, ‘There is no targeting of the tea party, I shut it down,’” he said.

Zawistowski explained that while it sounded outrageous last year, what has come out in recent days is even more concerning than what he and others had initially charged.

“[The media] are now telling me that they thought it was outrageous last year, and now that they have actually seen the documents, it is even more frightening than we said,” he added.

The tea party leader thanked the media for covering the story now because “there is nothing like seeing it in black and white.”

Zawistowski explained that he was running the Ohio Liberty Coalition during the period many of the tea party groups were targeted. His organization served as a “traffic cop” for the 233 tea party groups in Ohio. According to Zawistowski, more than half were affected by the IRS’s targeting effort.

“As you in the media explore this, the facts are the facts. What we most believe is that the important part of this story is that Americans are getting engaged,” he said, adding that this is a vindication of the tea party.

“It is a vindication of us for all the things, the horrible terrible things that have been said about us that are equally false: the racist claims, the bigot claims, homophobe, Islamophobe,  all the other trash  that came from the left. And unfortunately, it came from some of you in the media; that is equally not true,” he said.

Zawistowski would not reveal to The Daily Caller by name the identities of the media outlets that have apologized to him.

“I will say one of them was a major national newspaper and the other was a major newspaper in Ohio,” he explained to TheDC.

“One of the guys said, ‘I’m sitting here looking at what you sent me last year and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t cover,’ and I said ‘I understand, this is so surreal, we didn’t know what we were dealing with,’” Zawistowski said.

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