The New York Times' Disappearing Birther Scoop

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

It was perhaps the most talked-about paragraph in the political press yesterday. And then just like that, it was gone.

From the New York Times article that appeared on the newspaper's website Thursday morning, came this passage [emphasis added]:

A plurality of Republican voters, 47 percent, said they believed Mr. Obama, who was born in Hawaii, was born in another country; 22 percent said they did not know where he was born, and 32 percent said they believed he was born in the United States.

The remarkable poll result was just the latest indication of how the-world-is-flat-type of conspiracy about the president's birth certificate has thoroughly infiltrated the Republican Party and conservative movement in America, to the point where nearly half of Republicans believe the lie. (Take a bow Fox News.) To the point where half of Republicans don't think Obama is eligible to hold office.

But note that there were two peculiar things about how the Times handled the revelation.

First, in the original article, the newspaper completely buried the birther lede. Rather than highlighting the blockbuster poll finding, the Times gave the embarrassing news only a glancing reference and stuck the results deep down in the story, devoting just two sentences to the birther revelation. Sidestepping the thorny issue, the Times instead pegged the news story around the fact that Republican voters aren't enthusiastic about their possible White House candidates. (Hint: That's not exactly breaking news.)

Second, the much-talked about birther passage from the Times' polling piece soon disappeared; it was removed from the original article, without explaination. Readers now clicking on the Times link, which continues to whip around the Internet, aren't informed that a plurality of Republicans believe Obama was born in a foreign country. In fact, readers aren't told anything about those results. (A different article in the Times today makes a passing reference to the poll's findings.)

For some reason yesterday, the Times' birther scoop disappeared.

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