Fox News' Inevitable, Full-On Birther Embrace

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Finally, the birther stars are aligned.

Donald Trump is mounting a furious media tour on the conspiracy's behalf. Fox News is doing its best to prop up the fringe scheme, and dedicated birther detective Jerome Corsi is rolling out a new ad campaign in advance of his new birther book.

Busy fighting the last war, key segments of right-wing media, with a major assist from Fox News, have gone full-on birther, selling the zombie conspiracy that refuses to die.

And this isn't Birther Lite, the noxious brand of nonsense Mike Huckabee got caught promoting this month. That's the slightly less offensive, but equally sweeping, attack on the president that concedes Obama was born in the United States, but he's nonetheless foreign, or foreign influenced, to the point of having un-American worldview.

Instead, what Fox News is now sponsoring is straight-up, Obama-wasn't-born-in-America nonsense. That, despite the fact that birtherism was previously, and accurately, condemned by conservative pundits who insisted the fuzzy pursuit made their side look nutty. ("To any sane human being, there is no controversy.")

But now, increasingly desperate for rhetorical ammunition to hit Obama with, more and more outlets are cheering the birther comeback; a comeback that reveals more about bankrupt Obama-haters than it does the current president and that says more about a right-wing media movement that feels comfortable wallowing in easily disprovable, half-baked falsehoods than it does about the supposedly malignant target, Obama.

Why birtherism now, when so many media conservatives warned against elevating the dopey conspiracy? Easy. The cupboard was bare. The GOP Noise Machine has grown so ferocious in its appetite and so committed to feeding its loyal followers a never-ending diet of Obama-hating rhetoric and attacks, that it was just a matter of time before birtherism was served up, unapologetically, as an entry. It's simply the latest serving, the latest offering, from the Obama-hating menu. Meaning, the short-term satisfaction of wallowing in the dark conspiracy about Obama's possible African past won out over any common sense objections.

Remember, this is a movement that, despite a weekly avalanche of relentless attacks against the president, hasn't been able to move the needle on Obama's approval rating in nearly 18 months. (CBS News poll, Dec., 2009, 49 percent; CBS News poll, March, 2011, 49 percent.) Constantly foraging for juicy attacks has become a paramount pursuit.

Obviously, the recent emergence of Trump in his loudmouth role as birther conduit –as birther minstreamer—is driving the latest boomlet. (Lou Dobbs once had that conduit job for CNN; it didn't work out.) What's telling is the degree to which Trump has been hailed as a right-wing hero in recent days, and the degree to which Fox News won't stop hyping Trump's' attacks. It simply illustrates how birtherism never really died (despite previous predictions to the country.) It's just been waiting for another resurrection. And this time, Fox News decided to go all in and lend its corporate support to the burned-out, backward looking conspiracy.

Two years ago, with Bill O'Reilly out front condemning the birther allegations as "bogus," and Glenn Beck on the radiodenouncing birthers as "idiots" from the "fringe elements," it would have been inconceivable for Fox News to endorse the hackneyed conspiracy as energetically, and overtly, as it has in the last week. (Fox's previous birther cheerleading was more of the dip-the-toe-and-even-ankle variety, albeit repeatedly.)

Yet behold, today it's full-on birtherism for all to see.

Doocy: Birth Certificate Produced By Obama's Campaign "Is Not The Exact Birth Certificate"

Fox Goes Birther: Trump Tells Unquestioning Co-hosts, "I'm Starting To Wonder...Whether Or Not [Obama] Was Born In This Country"

"Where's The Birth Certificate?" Fox's Kilmeade Hosts Obama Conspiracist Jack Cashill

Hannity Says It's "Not True" That Obama Has Shown His Birth Certificate

Broken Record: Hannity Asks, "Why Can't They Just Release The Birth Certificate?"

Note the truly baffling timing of this Return of the Birther production. The Middle East is grappling with generational change, Japan is still struggling with seismic devastation, and the United States just helped launch military action against Libya. Yet against that backdrop, Fox News has decided that the dead-and-buried 'news' about Barack Obama's birth certificate deserves ongoing, primetime attention, and that every bungled, recycled claim Trump makes about Obama's birther certificate now passes as news.

That's the focus?

What's also telling, in terms of the complete bankruptcy on display, is that (surprise!) there is no news driving the birther comeback. Trump certainly hasn't uncovered any new information. Despite his hollow assertion on Fox that "all of a sudden, lot of facts are emerging," the current resurgence simply revolves around the fact that Trump is going on TV and saying, in a very 2007 kind of way, 'Show us the birth certificate.' That's it. That's the so-called angle now in play and being hyped by Fox News and other far-right media sources: Trump mentioned birtherism on TV!

The fact that right-wing bloggers consider Trump's embrace of birtherism to be a P.R. coup for the cause is just sad (he's a"bold new voice"!) and shows how out of touch they are with mainstream America. Seriously, pretending TV egomaniac Donald Trumps speaks for the Silent Majority and he's finally summoned the courage to say what so many other anxious voters wished they had?


And talk about fighting the last war! If Americans didn't think Obama was born in the United States or if they thought he was foreign and not like you and me, they wouldn't have voted him into office in an electoral landslide. Meaning, this birther nonsense was already brought up and American voters overwhelmingly rejected it.

So the logical Fox New response three years after the electoral landslide when birtherism was utterly ignored?

Resurrect it.

Fox News Channel
Donald Trump
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.