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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Birth Certificate: Obama’s Sudden Favorite Topic for a Good Reason?



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From the Thursday morning Jolt:

ABC News Confirms Obama Lies About Birth Certificate! Well, Sort Of.

Credit Jake Tapper for not accepting the president’s convenient narrative that the media’s irresponsibility forced him to hold a press conference unveiling his birth certificate. “The president said he was prompted to act “two weeks ago, when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country, and when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education and infrastructure and making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here.” But the president was wrong. According to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, that week the dominant news story was without question the economy. The ridiculous claims about the president’s birth certificate actually was the No. 4 story for the week – receiving about one tenth of the coverage devoted to stories about the economy.”

At Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis also pushes back against the notion that false conspiracy theories deserve no coverage whatsoever. “Of course, the White House may have felt as if the birther story was stepping on their message and, if they spent much time watching MSNBC or any of the network’s coverage of Donald Trump, it certainly might have seemed that way. Nonetheless, to say that the media was ignoring other issues to talk about the President’s birth certificate just isn’t true. Additionally, I don’t think its fair to say that the media just should have ignored this story. For the most part, they treated it like the ridiculous claim that it was when it first came out. There would be the occasional story when Orly Taitz filed one of her ridiculous lawsuits, of course, but it wasn’t until Donald Trump started talking about the issue that the media really started paying attention to it. Even then, I doubt that the Trump thing would have lasted very long but for the fact that polling started to show Trump rising in the GOP 2012 field, and other polls showed an alarmingly large plurality of Republicans holding the belief that the President was not born in the United States. At that point, it would have been irresponsible for the media to not report on the story and, as several reporters tried to do, challenge Trump’s bizarre claims about the President. The birther myth existed long before the media started covering and it spread without much help from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel.”

And note which network was really to blame, as Mediaite spotlights: “Aside from the one-man birther extravaganza that was Donald Trump, who pushed the birther story hardest? According to data from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism reviewed by the Poynter Institute’s Julie Moos, MSNBC had the most coverage, far ahead of Fox or CNN. “While MSNBC’s coverage may have been devoted to questioning or debunking the president’s citizenship issues, that network spent the most time discussing it,” said Moos.”

Bryan Preston writes, “It’s tempting to speculate that Obama used today’s release to make the birth certificate a bigger story, to distract from the story that the press has spent 39% of its time covering: Namely, the economy.” Or gas prices. Or the war kinetic military action in Libya. Or the Obama administration’s effort to stabilize the housing market. Or the constitutionality of health care reform. Or the violence on our southern border. Or how the drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico cost 8,000 to 12,000 jobs. Or…

Hey, suddenly Obama’s eagerness to talk about his birth certificate makes a lot more sense.

A good comment that I saw too late to include in today’s edition, from Michael Graham: “Forget the certificate itself. The most astonishing thing I saw yesterday was a sitting president waiting for the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” to finish a New Hampshire press availability so he could start his own. When your presidency is so lackluster you’re getting upstaged by a guy whose job is to coax coherent sentences out of Gary Busey . . . well this was not a good moment for the republic.”


Tags: Barack Obama


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