Following President Obama's press conference on the release of his long form birth certificate yesterday, right-wing media figures have attacked him for calling birtherism "silliness" and then later in the day filming an interview for Oprah and attending fundraising events. But reports show that the issue had indeed become a distraction, even though Obama released a copy of his birth certificate while on the campaign trail in 2008.
Fox Attacks Obama For Appearing On Oprah, At Fundraisers, After Calling Birtherism "Silliness"
Krauthammer: "The President Said He Doesn't Have The Time For Such Silliness ... [And] As Soon As He Said It, He Got On A Plane ... To Do The Oprah Show." During the April 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said the that "the president is right on this ... this is not a serious issue," yet concluded that "[w]e saw how the president said he doesn't have the time for such silliness ... and as soon as he said it, he got on a plane to Chicago to do the Oprah show." Host Bret Baier added in response, "And then [he] went to New York for some fundraising." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 4/27/11]
Hannity: "[Obama] Said 'No Time For This Silliness," But "He Literally Today Went To Fundraisers [And] Taped Oprah." On the April 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity devoted several segments to discussing the president's release of his long form birth certificate. During one segment, he said, "The president literally today went to fundraisers, taped Oprah, you know, he said, 'no time for this silliness,' he has a lot of important things to do. I don't think taping Oprah and playing golf and his other extracurricular activities is more important than, say, fixing the economy." [Fox News,Hannity, 4/27/11]
Fox & Friends Attacks Obama For Calling Birtherism "Silliness" Because "Then He Left To Be On Oprah" And Attended Fundraisers. On the April 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts spent several segments bashing President Obama for referring to birtherism conspiracies as "silliness" and then later in the day attending fundraisers and taping an interview for Oprah. From the first segment about Obama's release of his long form birth certificate:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): That's right, in the 9:00 hour yesterday, Gretchen [Carlson, co-host], right here on the Fox News Channel, in fact, during a Donald Trump press conference, the President of the United States released his long form birth certificate. He was clearly frustrated. At one point, he said, "We do not have time for this silliness. We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve." Said we didn't have time for silliness -- and then he left to be on Oprah. Here's a snippet.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): It's going to be on the last Oprah show, so that was it. He went and taped that. But then it was back to business. Three fundraisers in New York City. So --
DOOCY: No time for silliness.
KILMEADE: Yeah, no time for silliness. Had to go back to work to campaign when he doesn't have an opponent in the Democratic primary and won't have a Republican opponent for about a year, but he wanted to raise money, and he did, in the millions of dollars.
During the segment, the following on-screen text aired:
[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/28/11]
Malkin: The President "Lecture[s] Us About The Need To Be Serious And Then He Turned His Heels And Immediately Went To That Serious Venue, Oprah Winfrey." Later during Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed Obama's release of his birth certificate with Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin. At one point, Malkin stated:
MALKIN: [H]ere we have him -- had him have his press conference in DC lecturing us about the need to be serious, and then he turned his heels and immediately went to that serious venue, Oprah Winfrey. And then off to New York City for three very serious campaign fund-raisers. He's on the job. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/28/11]
But Birtherism Had Reportedly Become Legitimate Distraction...
WH: Issue Was "Distracting From The Many Challenges We Face." An April 27 statement on the White House website said that the issue of the president's long form birth certificate had been "distracting from the many challenges we face as a country" and noted that the Hawaii State Department of Health agreed to release the long form certificate because "of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting." [White House, 4/27/11]
WaPo's Sargent: "Over A Dozen Members Of Congress ... Are Either Birthers Or Won't Denounce [Birtherism] ... Lawmakers In At Least 10 States Have Introduced Birther Bills This Year." As Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent noted on The Plum Line, birtherism had gained many supporters within Congress and had spread to state legislatures:
There are over a dozen members of Congress who are either birthers or won't denounce the idea that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced birther bills this year. Self-appointed leaders of the birther movement are now saying that even this latest gesture by Obama isn't enough. [The Washington Post, 4/27/11]
NYT: "The So-Called Birther Controversy Stubbornly Refuses To Go Away." On April 21, six days before the president released his long form birth certificate, a New York Times article noted that "the so-called birther controversy stubbornly refuses to go away." From the article:
Investigations have concluded that President Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii in 1961, as he has always said.
Just this week, on the news program "Good Morning America" on ABC, George Stephanopoulos produced a copy of the president's Certification of Live Birth, causing a potential presidential aspirant, Michele Bachmann, the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, to say that the issue appeared settled. In 2008, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging that proof.
But the so-called birther controversy stubbornly refuses to go away.
The issue, which has simmered at the fringes of the nation's political discourse for years, even got a recent burst of attention when it was adopted as a talking point by Donald Trump, a potential Republican presidential candidate.
The result is that what had been a wispy tale of purportedly buried documents and cover-ups designed to hide the president's supposed birth in Kenya -- a tale that has been dismissed by most mainstream members of both political parties -- now appears to have staying power as the political season lurches toward 2012. [The New York Times, 4/21/11]
...Even Though Obama Released Birth Certificate During 2008 Campaign
Obama Campaign Released His Birth Certificate In June 2008. In June 2008, Obama's presidential campaign released a certification of live birth issued by the state of Hawaii. FactCheck.org confirmed that it has "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false." [FactCheck.org, 8/21/08]