From a July 24 post on The New York Times' Media Decoder blog:
The conspiracy theorists who have claimed for more than a year that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen have found receptive ears among some mainstream media figures in recent weeks.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the country's most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners Tuesday that Mr. Obama "has yet to have to prove that he's a citizen." Lou Dobbs of CNN said that Mr. Obama should do more to dispel the claims. Larry King, also of CNN, asked guests about it, and other media types, including the MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, merrily mocked the controversy. NBC News even did a segment on the subject.
"This smear was thoroughly debunked during the election," said Eric Burns, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring organization.
Remarkably, there is even a reference to Mr. Obama's birth in the "Births, Marriages, Deaths" column of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper on Aug. 13, 1961. Still, the claims about Mr. Obama's citizenship persist among a small but vocal group, essentially portraying Mr. Obama as a foreigner who has managed to conceal his origins for nearly five decades.
"It's racist," said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. "It's racist. Just call it for what it is."
Decent news article in the Journal today that tackles a topic most of the press seems to have ignored so far, which is what the political downside is for Republicans if they successfully kill Obama's health care reform. To date, the press has mostly presented this as a win-win situation for the GOP, despite the fact that polling consistently show that a majority of American want health care reform and support Obama's approach.
Typically, if a political party stakes out a position that runs counter to what most voters want, then there's a political penalty to be paid. But not for Republicans, at least not when it comes to health care coverage. Rather than stressing, or even mentioning, how the party finds itself out of touch with the mainstream, the Republicans are seen--via the press--as being on the verge of a monumental win if they're able to defeat health care.
Reminds me of the skewed coverage back during the stimulus bill 'debate,' when the press rolled out a win-win for Republicans, who simply had to oppose Obama on the centerpiece legislation and the press would crown Obama the loser. Why? Because he couldn't land any bipartisan support.
Today, the Journal at least raises the question about a Republican backlash if they kill health care reform:
Republicans, seeking to regain political ground in the health-care debate, have launched a series of attacks on Democrats' overhaul plan. But some GOP strategists worry an aggressive approach could backfire, if voters decide the party is obstructing efforts to address an issue they care about.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that as Palin leaves office in Alaska, 53 percent of U.S. voters view her negatively, and 57 percent don't think she understands the complex issues of the day.
Still, given how some news outlets have recently been bending over backward to claim she remained "popular," despite previous polling data that showed just the opposite, we'll have to see if the press is able to report the ABC/WP poll results a bit more accurately. Because I'm pretty sure it's no longer accurate to describe Palin as "popular."
I'd love to see Fox News' Greta Van Susteren have Byron York back on her program so they could once again discuss how "popular" Sarah Palin is.
From a July 24 open letter Southern Poverty Law Center president J. Richard Cohen addressed to CNN president Jonathan Klein:
On the July 15 edition of "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Mr. Dobbs questioned the official certificate provided by the president and the State of Hawaii and complained that President Obama has not made public the "original document." On his radio program, Mr. Dobbs has repeatedly questioned the president's fitness for office, demanding he "show the documents" and, at one point, jokingly suggesting President Obama may be "undocumented."
The truth about the president's birth is not in dispute. It has been verified by Factcheck.org, among many other serious news organizations, and his official birth documents have been made public. CNN itself has repeatedly reported on the falsity of the claims of the "birthers," and the network's esteemed legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, recently called those claims "a joke." As you know, even Mr. Dobbs' frequent fill-in anchor, Kitty Pilgrim, debunked the birthers on the July 17 edition of Mr. Dobbs' own CNN show. The fact that Mr. Dobbs suggests otherwise on CNN - while real CNN reporters tell the truth - is both deplorable and an embarrassment to all serious journalists.
This is not the first time Mr. Dobbs has pushed racist conspiracy theories or defamatory falsehoods about immigrants. We wrote you in 2007 to bring to your attention his utterly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in the United States in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. (The real number, according to official statistics, was about 400. Mr. Dobbs took his spurious information from the late right-wing extremist, Madeleine Cosman.) In addition, Mr. Dobbs has reported as fact the so-called Aztlan conspiracy, which claims that undocumented Mexican immigrants are part of a plot to "reconquer" the American Southwest. He has suggested there is something to a related conspiracy theory that claims the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge into the "North American Union." He has falsely claimed that "illegal aliens" fill one third of American prison and jail cells. And Mr. Dobbs has routinely disparaged, on CNN's air, those who have had the integrity to point out the falsity of these and similar claims.
Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.
From an article about the Obama/Gates kerfuffle [emphasis added]:
Police organizations attacked the president's willingness to criticize a police officer without knowing all the facts, Republicans dusted off law-and-order attacks largely absent from the presidential campaign and everyone from comedian Bill Cosby to the Irish-American media piled on.
First, Politico didn't bother to point to any proof that the media "piled on." I know conservatives and right-wing bloggers teed off on Obama. And reporters have covered the story (too) extensively with a mostly straight news approach. But I haven't seen any kind of wide-scale "pile-on." Not in comparison to say, the Lou Dobbs pile-on that unfolded this week.
But more importantly, the media in this country is now "Irish-American"? What is this, 1942 at the New York Daily Mirror? I mean gimme a break with these sweeping, and shallow, generalizations.
When I read passages like that from Politico I just always wonder, does anybody edit this stuff?
Nexis hits for "Obama and Henry Louis Gates": 363
Currently it's quite confusing, because depending on the week, and depending on the actors involved, the Noise Machine is either adamantly opposed to identity politics (Judge Sonia Sotomayor), and even any discussion of racism in America (prof. Louis Gates/Barack Obama), or the Noise Machine loves identity politics and wishes more people (like Harry Alford) would call out white politicians as racists.
Like I said, it's become quite confusing to watch. But what I have been able to determine from watching the Noise Machine ping-pong back and forth is that when Democrats or liberals raise the uncomfortable issue of race it's bad, bad, bad. But when conservatives or Republicans race the issue of race against a Democrat, it's a very, very good thing.
For those trying to keep score at home, when Sotomayor was being confirmed, conservative pundits were universal in their claim that identity politics, especially when practiced by African-Americans and Hispanics, was abhorrent and should be avoided at all costs. That it was a divisive crutch Democrats used for political gain. And during the confirmation hearings, lots of conservative voices didn't even try to hide ugly racial stereotypes.
But then hold on! Just days later during a House hearing, pro-business conservative flak Harry Alford appeared before Congress on behalf of the GOP to argue against pending energy legislation. When he didn't like innocuous questions being asked by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA.), Alford cried racism (he claimed Boxer was getting all "racial), and guess what? Right-wingers loved it. The Noise Machine rallied around Alford and unveiled its previously invisible concern for racial equality in American politics.
And then when Alford made the rounds on right-wing radio and embellished his encounter with Boxer--when Alford suggested the senator had called him a "little jiggaboo" and "little Negro"--the Noise Machine loved him even more. Finally!, they cheered, somebody who would stand up to the racist ways of American politics!
But apparently that we-shall-overcome feeling evaporated this week in the wake of the news regarding the arrest of Gates, the African-American Harvard professor who claimed he was mistreated by Cambridge, Mass. police; a story Obama discussed at a White House briefing.
Instead of cheering Gates and Obama for raising the uncomfortable question of race (the way the right-wing had cheered pro-business flak Alford and his attack on Boxer), the Noise Machine retreated to its previous Sotomayor stance and lashed out at anyone (except Alford, of course) who dared cry racism. They hated the way Obama (aka "Racist-in-chief") joined Gates' "knee-jerk" protest about inequality in America.
So, just to sum up the right-wing stance, and to help folks keep score moving forward, let's review:
*Sotomayor identity politics = bad
*Alford identity politics = very good
*Gates/Obama identity politics = the worst
From the July 24 Washington Times op-ed of American Spectator founder and editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.:
As I read his enjoinder against making important decisions, the telephone rang. A media booker was at my ear inquiring whether I would accept the invitation of a well-known cable news show to talk about how the Republican Party was being affected by Obama critics who have been harassing Democratic politicians with claims that the president did not have a legitimate birth certificate and was born abroad, perhaps in Botswana or Upper Volta or Lapland. On his provenance, there is no unanimity among these critics.
Well, my doctor's instructions did counsel that I not "make important decisions," but how would that hinder me on a political talk show? As I saw it, I would be in perfect condition to answer the witty ripostes of cable news' talking heads, say Tucker Carlson or Jon Stewart.
I agreed to do the afternoon show so long as I did not have to drive a car or use heavy machinery to get to the studio. Moreover, I had good news for the booker. Choosing me to discuss the president's national origins was an inspired choice. A crack reporter of mine at the American Spectator had investigated the matter when it was a hot rumor during the presidential election and found no empirical evidence in support of the story.
Better yet, the Spectator's reporter found evidence militating against the story. At the time of President Obama's birth in 1961, a notice of the blessed event was published in the major Hawaiian newspaper. I would not rule out dark and treacherous conspiracies by a Democratic president, especially one in cahoots with Rahm Emanuel, but a conspiracy going back almost five decades exceeds even Mr. Emanuel's diablerie.
Thus, I would gladly appear on this news show and present evidence that the questions about the president's place of birth are without merit. The news story is nonsense. Those who dwell on it are distracting us from today's real issues: the Obama administration's bankrupting of the country, its attempt to transform American health care into a rationing system against senior citizens and the chronically ill, its "cap-and-trade" bill guaranteeing high unemployment and higher energy costs in time of recession.
Well, ha-ha-ha. Back comes my disappointed booker after conveying the good news that we would be setting the record straight on the show shortly. Alas, the show's producers did not want me to set the record straight. They had wanted me to defend the false story. But I reminded the booker that I knew the story to be false. In fact, I had provided the show with irrefutable proof that the story is false. Mr. Obama is American-born.
The show proceeded to find a guest who would repeat the false story, either knowingly or out of ignorance -- so much for getting to the truth of issues on television. As for me, I would never knowingly publish anything I knew to be untrue, not in this column or in the American Spectator.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Tyrrell has written several smear books that feature numerous unverified -- and, to the point of absurdity, poorly sourced -- claims about the Clintons. In his October 20, 1997, "Media Notes" column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote that in the Spectator, "Tyrrell himself has weighed in with two pieces on Bill Clinton's supposed ties to drug-running at the Mena, Ark., airport and another titled 'Is Clinton on Coke?' "