Media ignore evidence Boustany endorsed "birther" questions in reporting his role rebutting Obama on health care

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and Fox News' Major Garrett ignored Rep. Charles Boustany's (R-LA) past comments regarding whether President Obama was born in the United States in reporting on the GOP's decision to have Boustany deliver the party's response to Obama's health care reform address. In fact, in a video for which videographer Mike Stark says he asked congressional Republicans whether they believed Obama was born in this country, Stark is shown asking, "Do you think there's a question here?" to which Boustany responded, "I think there are questions, we'll have to see."

Boustany reportedly endorsed legitimacy of "birther" questions

Huffington Post: "[T]he most 'surprising' aspect to the choice of Boustany is the fact that he is a Birther!" In a September 9 Huffington Post report, Jason Linkins wrote that "the most 'surprising' aspect to the choice of Boustany is the fact that he is a Birther!" Linkins pointed to a video compiled by University of Virginia law student Mike Stark and posted on Huffington Post in July, for which Stark says he interviewed congressional Republicans asking them whether they "believe Barack Obama is an American." Stark's exchange with Boustany is as follows:

BOUSTANY: Well, it's certainly being looked at.

STARK: What do you personally believe, though? I mean -- do you think there's a question here?

BOUSTANY: I think there are questions, we'll have to see. [Huffington Post, 9/9/09]

Stark provided the following description of his efforts:

Check out this video: several Republican Congressman tell me they don't believe Barack Obama is an American. Several dodge the question. Others offer weak-tea justifications for kinda-sorta believing Obama is a natural born citizen, Constitutionally fit to hold the office of President of the United States of America. Only one, Trent Franks of Arizona, gives a correct and clear answer, but even he can't help himself from suggesting that Obama is facilitating Jihad and turning America into a socialist state.

Boustany reportedly "clarif[ied] that he does believe that President Obama is a United States citizen." A July 29 Lafayette Grapevine blog post reported that following the interview with Stark, Boustany "would later retract his original statement on KPEL and clarify that he does believe that President Obama is a United States citizen." [Huffington Post, 9/9/09]

Media ignore evidence Boustany claimed "there are questions" behind "birther" movement

Associated Press. A September 8 AP article reported: "U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette will give the Republican rebuttal to President Barack Obama's national speech Wednesday about health care. Boustany, a retired heart surgeon, said in a statement that he will offer recommendations for 'commonsense reforms that Republicans and all Americans can stand behind.' " The AP further reported:

Boustany was first elected in 2004, representing the 7th Congressional District covering southwest Louisiana and Acadiana.

Boustany won't be the first Louisianian to offer a rebuttal to an Obama speech. Gov. Bobby Jindal gave the GOP response after the President's February address to Congress. Jindal's speech was widely panned. [AP, 9/8/09]

Boston Globe. A September 9 Boston Globe article reported that "a congressman who is also a doctor will deliver the Republican response immediately afterward." The Globe further reported:

Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana, a cardiothoracic surgeon, has more than 20 years of medical experience and has served in Congress since 2005. "As a doctor, I know we must lower costs and improve care, which we can accomplish by focusing on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship and working in a bipartisan way,'' he said in a statement. "Health care is a kitchen table issue that affects all Americans, and I believe we need an honest discussion about how we come together to fix what's broken, while building on what works.'' [The Boston Globe, 9/9/09]

Wolf Blitzer. Discussing the Republican rebuttal, Blitzer said of Boustany: "Charles Boustany of Louisiana is a heart surgeon with more than 20 years experience. On his website, Boustany says his goal is to lower costs and improve care by focusing on the doctor-patient relationship and by working in a bipartisan way." [CNN's The Situation Room, 9/8/09]

Major Garrett. Fox News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett described Boustany as "a third-term member of Congress who used to be a thoracic and lung surgeon. And he won in a district that a Republican hadn't carried in Louisiana since 1884. So he knows something about going up against long Democratic odds, and he'll certainly face it going up against the president tomorrow night." [Fox News' Special Report, 9/8/09]

Washington Post. In a September 8 blog post, Washington Post staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. reported on Boustany's selection to give the GOP rebuttal and claimed, "Boustany is a somewhat surprising pick in that he is little-known nationally and not part of the Republican leadership in Congress," as The Huffington Post noted. Bacon went on to report, " 'Dr. Boustany has been a tireless advocate for reform that lowers health care costs and expands access for the American people at a price our nation can afford,' said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio.) 'He understands why Washington, as Democrats have proposed, should never get between a doctor and his patient.' " [washingtonpost.com's Capitol Briefing blog, 9/8/09]

Transcripts

From the September 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: The Republican response to President Obama's address tomorrow night will be given by a doctor-turned-congressman. Charles Boustany of Louisiana is a heart surgeon with more than 20 years experience. On his website, Boustany says his goal is to lower costs and improve care by focusing on the doctor-patient relationship and by working in a bipartisan way.

By the way, stay with CNN for complete coverage of the president's health care address to Congress and the Republican response. We'll be right here tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern, along with the best political team on television.

From the September 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

GARRETT: Meanwhile, Republicans decided on who will give their response to the president's address to a joint session. It will be Charles Boustany from Louisiana, a third-term member of Congress who used to be a thoracic and lung surgeon. And he won in a district that a Republican hadn't carried in Louisiana since 1884. So he knows something about going up against long Democratic odds, and he'll certainly face it going up against the president tomorrow night -- Bret.

BRET BAIER (host): Major Garrett live on the North Lawn. Major, thanks.

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