From an August 2 article by McClatchy Newspapers' Steven Thomma:
The allegation that President Barack Obama was born in another country is more than just another political smear.
It's the story of how a small but intense movement called "birthers" rose from a handful of people prone to seeing conspiracies aided by the Internet - and magnified without evidence by eager radio and cable TV hosts, and eventually ratified by a small group of Republican politicians working to keep the story alive.
It's a story about what experts call political paranoia over a new face in a time of anxiety and rapid change. It's the sort of viral message that can take hold among a sliver of the populace that's ready to believe that their new president is a fraud, and ready to angrily dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as part of the conspiracy.
Once the story spread on the Internet, several of the birthers have found a stage on talk radio and cable TV. Lou Dobbs of CNN, for example, has said he thinks the allegations are false, yet he continues airing them.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh has joked about it, saying, "Barack Obama has one thing in common with God. You know what it is? God doesn't have a birth certificate either."
Sean Hannity has featured Andy Martin on his Fox News program, and radio host Liddy has repeatedly featured stories charging that the president was born in Kenya.
From Frank Rich's August 1 New York Times column, Small Beer, Big Hangover:
One of the loudest birther enablers is not at Fox but CNN: Lou Dobbs, who was heretofore best known for trying to link immigrants, especially Hispanics, to civic havoc. Dobbs is one-stop shopping for the excesses of this seismic period of racial transition. And he is following a traditional, if toxic, American playbook. The escalating white fear of newly empowered ethnic groups and blacks is a naked replay of more than a century ago, when large waves of immigration and the northern migration of emancipated blacks, coupled with a tumultuous modernization of the American work force, unleashed a similar storm of racial and nativist panic.
Rich also slams Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for labeling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist and Glenn Beck for labeling Obama a racist:
Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox News, where Brit Hume last Sunday lamented how insulting it is "to be labeled a racist" in "contemporary" America. "That fact has placed into the hands of certain people a weapon," he said, as he condemned Gates for hurling that weapon at a police officer. Gates may well have been unjust -- we don't know that Crowley is a racist - but the professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home.
What about those far more famous leaders in Hume's own camp who insistently cry "racist" -- and in public forums -- without any credible justification whatsoever? These are the "certain people" Hume conspicuously didn't mention. They include Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, both of whom labeled Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Their ranks were joined last week by Glenn Beck, who on Fox News inexplicably labeled Obama a racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people," presumably including his own mother.
From Pages 12-13 of conservative columnist Michelle Malkin's new book, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies (Regnery Publishing, July 2009):
Fortunately, not everyone on the Left remains paralyzed in an irreversible state of Obama inebriation. This book would not have been possible without the contributions of some brave and lonely liberals -- whistleblowers at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), independent journalists and government watchdogs -- who rejected the excuse-making and white-washing of Obama's culture of corruption. While Obama sycophants in the mainstream media celebrated his "hipness"23 and his "swagga,"24 a few principled progressives finally began to question the cult.
But they are still in the minority. And there will be more predictable excuses. As I document in this book, Obama's cronies of color (beginning with his own wife) reach for the race card when their dubious judgment is questioned. And when all else fails, there's always the "I inherited the problem" alibi.
To which I reply: Read the book. Barack Obama owns this cabinet of tax cheats, crooks, and cronies. It is his and his alone. In the era of "new politics," judge him as you would judge other mere mortals. Judge him not by the company that preceded him.
Judge him by the company he keeps.
From James Poniewozik's Time article Threats with Teeth:
To live every week like it's Shark Week, then, might be a metaphor for living in our media environment: to spend every week titillated by unlikely threats, getting whipped into frenzies, yawning over high-minded stuff like health-care policy and supping from the delicious chum bucket of hysteria. The President is a secret Kenyan who faked his birth certificate! Terrorists are coming to get you! And the world is going to end, six different ways! But first a word from our sponsor.
Coincidentally, one of the best recent critiques of how media overkill works is airing during Shark Week. Summer is high season for media freak-outs. This year, we've had celebrity deaths, political sex scandals and a conspiracy theory that President Obama was born outside the U.S., revived by the likes of CNN's Lou Dobbs. Sharkbite Summer (Aug. 4) looks back eight years to when a few high-profile shark attacks sent the media into their own feeding frenzy. The summer of 2001, postrecount and pre-9/11, was notoriously slow on news. (Hence, it was also the season of the Chandra Levy media circus.) So when an 8-year-old boy was mauled by a bull shark in Florida, a hungry press attacked.
What, another concocted Politico headline that doesn't match the facts of the story (but lands a Drudge linked)? We're shocked.
Franken feuds with T. Boone Pickens
Obviously, "feuds" implies an on-going and bitter confrontation. Instead, what happened, according to the article, was:
Franken, who was seated talking to someone else, did not stand when Pickens said hello. Instead, Franken began to berate him about the billionaire's financing of the Swift Boat ads in 2004. According to a source, the confrontation grew heated.
Basically, a conversation took place, and Politico hyped it as a feud.
From Ceci Connolly's August 1 Washington Post article, Talk Radio Campaign Frightening Seniors:
A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama's calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life "rationing" and even "euthanasia."
The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.
But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as "guiding you in how to die," "an ORDER from the Government to end your life," promoting "death care" and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to "kill Granny."
The attacks on talk radio began when Betsy McCaughey, who helped defeat President Bill Clinton's health-care overhaul 16 years ago, told former senator Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) that mandatory counseling sessions with Medicare beneficiaries would "tell them how to end their life sooner" and would teach the elderly how to "decline nutrition . . . and cut your life short."
Today's New York Times reports that there's been something of a corporate truce worked out between the parent companies of MSNBC and Fox News, which calls for both sides, especially Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly, to knock off the on-air attacks. (Read Glenn Greenwald to understand why that's such a bad idea from a journalism perspective.)
According to the Times, shortly after June 1, "the attacks mostly stopped."
But did they? [Emphasis added]
"Look at the television situation. CNN, what's happening over there? Falling apart ratings wise. NBC, falling apart ratings-wise. Why? NBC is nasty," [June 9, The O'Reilly Factor]
""Back of the Book" segment tonight, "Reality Check," where the truth is sometimes very disturbing. "Check" one, as you may know, the General Electric corporation owns NBC News. And there is compelling evidence that NBC is giving favorable treatment so that G.E. will be awarded billions -- billions -- in government contracts." [June 18, The O'Reilly Factor]
"I have to tell you, I think -- I think G.E., I think what they are building is absolutely insidious. I think it is. I mean, think of this: They have Universal Pictures. They have NBC News, the NBC Entertainment Network. They have Biography and all those other networks. I don't think they own Lifetime. They are in aerospace industry; they are in defense. I mean, they are in energy, everything." [July 13, Glenn Beck]
UPDATE: Politico's Michael Calderone reports: "The video was a satirical piece that lampooned people of all stripes," a Post spokesperson tells POLITICO. "There was a section of the video that went too far, so we have removed the piece from our website."
"The video was a satirical piece that lampooned people of all stripes," a Post spokesperson tells POLITICO. "There was a section of the video that went too far, so we have removed the piece from our website."
No joke. And I mean that literally: "Ménage à Stella Artois" manages to be both glibly insulting and extraordinarily un-funny. Which is, in itself, fairly insulting...One wonders how much of the Post staff's time and resources were devoted to researching, writing, staging, shooting, and editing such an extraordinarily value-free contribution to the annals of political commentary.
In fact, Dobbs was tentatively schedule for the Tuesday night broadcast, to talk about birthers, of course. But it appears his CNN boss may have put the kibosh on the appearance.
Now Mediaite has obtained the email exchange between Dobbs' team and the Fox producers, proving the CNN host's interest in appearing on the program.
The emails show a lengthy exchange between Steve Karas, a publicist for Dobbs' radio show, and Rob Monaco, an O'Reilly Factor producer. Tuesday morning, Karas pitched a Dobbs appearance on the Fox News program, saying Dobbs was "very interested in coming on."
I have to say it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of what CNN's bosses have final say over in terms of Dobbs and his birther crusade. CNN chief Jon Klein claims the cabler has no influence in terms of what Dobbs says on his radio show. Yet in this case, it was Dobbs' radio show flaks who were lining up an appearance on Fox News. Did CNN suddenly step in and overrule Dobbs' radio show publicity? And if it did, why can't CNN step in and overrule what Dobbs says on his radio show regarding birthers?