CBS' Schieffer Drops Trump's Birtherism Down The Memory Hole

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

This morning, CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer interviewed Donald Trump about the businessman and reality television star's consideration of a possible independent run for president (consideration that, coincidentally, comes shortly before the season premiere of The Apprentice and publication of Trump's new book). Viewers learned that Trump doesn't want to run for president because he would "rather do what I'm doing now," but if he doesn't see a Republican nominated who he thinks can beat President Obama, he "would certainly think about doing it after the show ends."

CBS viewers heard nothing, however, about Trump's history of pushing debunked birther conspiracy theories. Somehow, in an interview almost entirely concerned with Trump's presidential aspirations, Schieffer did not ask a single question about the central facets of the pseudocampaign for the Republican nomination Trump ran in the spring of 2011: Trump's repeated suggestion that President Obama may not have been born in the United States (and thus could not hold the presidency under the Constitution) and his demands that Obama "show his birth certificate."


These claims were always absurd. In June 2008, Obama's campaign made public a copy of Obama's certificate of live birth, which was published on the Internet by numerous media outlets. Many experts, including a team from, reviewed the document in person and determined it was authentic. On July 27, 2009, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, certified that she had personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the original records maintained by the Hawaii government.

None of this evidence restrained the rag-tag movement of conspiracy theorists who strained logic well past its breaking point in their attempt to prove Obama ineligible for the presidency. Nor did it give Trump pause in his attempt to latch onto that movement and use it for his own gain -- or deter Fox News, which hyped Trump's claims for weeks in at least 52 segments.

In late April, roughly a month after Trump first demanded that Obama "show his birth certificate," the president released his long-form birth certificate. Trump promptly took credit for the release (and was declared the "winner" of the controversy by the right-wing media) -- but then questioned the document's authenticity. Soon after, he announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for the presidency, and the question of President Obama's citizenship -- largely absent from the mainstream before Trump began pushing conspiracies -- receded again from the national discourse.

But over the past few months, Trump has doubled down on his support of anti-Obama conspiracy theories. He has defended his dalliance with birtherism, said that he has "no idea" if Obama was born in the United States, and said that he doesn't believe that Obama wrote his memoir, Dreams From My Father (Trump had previously pointed to Bill Ayers as the book's possible real author).

One would think that this sort of history of conspiracy-mongering would be front and center in the discussion of a possible Trump run for president. But at CBS, that history seems to have already been forgotten.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Bob Schieffer, Donald Trump
Face the Nation
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.