• opinion piece: "Obama's to Blame for the Birther Movement"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a July 29 opinion piece posted on, Tommy De Seno writes that "since no one has shown any proof [Obama] was born in Kenya or elsewhere, it's OK to conclude he was born in Hawaii" but the "Birther movement is Obama's fault for not releasing the records. I hope the Birthers continue to bite his ankles until he releases the records. He deserves nothing less."

    De Seno casts doubt on the birth certificate Obama posted online and speculates on Obama being born in Kenya:

    Two birth announcements from Hawaiian local papers show Obama's birth. The Birthers have a couple of good arguments about them. First, Hawaii is where Obama's grandparents lived and it's not unusual for grandparents to announce a birth to their friends, even if the grandson lives elsewhere. Also, if Obama's parents lived in Hawaii then moved to Kenya when they birthed him, it wouldn't be unusual to announce the birth in the old neighborhood for friends to see.

    The newspaper announcements cut against the Birthers, but they are hearsay documents and don't answer the citizen question any more than his grammar school records prove he is a Muslim. The original Birth Certificate will end it all. of speculation about the legitimacy of Obama's birth notices:

    But here's the thing. Newspaper officials he checked with confirmed those notices came from the state Department of Health.

    "That's not the kind of stuff a family member calls in and says, 'Hey, can you put this in?'" [Honolulu Advertiser reporter Will] Hoover explained.

    Take a second and think about that. In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers - on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States.

    De Seno's piece was promoted by The Fox Nation:


    Fox News still trafficking in birth certificate theories

    Fox Nation again posts birther story with picture of Obama in Somali clothes

    UPDATED: Fox Nation still obsessing over Obama's birth certificate

  • NYT accentuates the negative in health care polling article

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The New York Times' write-up of its new poll paints a dire picture for health care reform:

    Poll Shows Obama's Clout on Health Care Is Eroding


    President Obama's ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government takeover that could limit Americans' ability to chose their doctors and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

    Americans are concerned that overhauling the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatments and tests, the poll found. The percentage who describe health care costs as a serious threat to the American economy - a central argument made by Mr. Obama - has dropped over the past month.

    Uh-oh! Sounds bad, doesn't it? But look how easy it is to write that article differently, based on the same poll (PDF link):

    Poll Shows Strong Support for Reform; Obama More Trusted Than GOP


    President Obama continues to enjoy significant advantage over his Republican counterparts when it comes to who the public trusts to reform health care, and the American people continue to overwhelmingly favor sweeping reform, even in the face of efforts by opponents to negatively define Mr. Obama's proposals, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

    The poll found that fully 90 percent of Americans think it is necessary to make "fundamental changes" or "completely rebuild" the health care system. President Obama enjoys a 29-point advantage over congressional Republicans on the question of who has better ideas to reform the system. The percentage of people who think the health care system needs to be fixed now as part of fixing the overall economy has increased in recent weeks, and the percentage who think the US cannot afford to fix health care now has decreased.

    Seventy-six percent of Americans consider the rising cost of health care a threat to the nation's economy. Sixty-six percent support the "government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan - something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get - that would compete with private health insurance plans?" Sixty-five percent support tax increases on "Americans with high incomes" in order to pay for reform.

    Eighty percent of Americans are concerned that if the government does not create a system for providing health care for all Americans, the number of uninsured people will increase. Sixty-six percent are concerned that absent such reform, they personally might be without coverage at some point. Seventy-five percent worry that absent such reform, the cost of their own health care will go up.

    Keep that in mind when you see cable news freak out over the Times article tomorrow: The very same poll contains a ton of data that should be encouraging for those who favor significant reform.

    UPDATE: Also worth noting: Much of the public skepticism the real New York Times article detailed is based on misconceptions -- like the concern that reform would "limit ... options in choosing doctors." Well, it wouldn't. So who cares if people think it might? If such reform is enacted, they'll pretty quickly see that they can still go to their doctor, and that concern will dissipate.

  • Rep. Boehner, er, Fox Nation, asks: "Why Don't Dems Want Americans to See This Chart?"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox Nation's front-page headline "Why Don't Dems Want Americans to See This Chart?" parrots House Minority Leader John Boehner's floor remarks -- a video of which Fox Nation provides -- during which he said, "Democrats in Congress don't want the American people to see this chart."


    The media's web of misinformation

    Conservative outlets provide forum for Republicans' "baffling" health care "flow chart"

    Hannity, Jenkins report on the how the GOP chart depicts the "Candyland" of the health-care reform bill

  • Chris Matthews is lying about Barack Obama

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chris Matthews just said on Hardball that Barack Obama's initial comments about the Gates arrest was a case of "profiling":

    CHRIS MATTHEWS: "He was profiling in a sense. The president. He was looking at it as a classic case, he thought. ... I mean, he was profiling the situation. He was saying 'This is a situation I'm familiar with, therefore I know what happened.' He doesn't know what happened."

    Except that isn't what happened. Not at all. What actually happened is that Barack Obama said, very clearly, that he did not know what happened in this situation, or whether race played a role. Here, take a look at Obama's exact words:

    BARACK OBAMA: "I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that."

    How is Matthews able to get away with such a gross distortion? Easy: When he plays video of Obama's Gates comments, he leaves that part on the cutting-room floor.

    That's spectacularly dishonest.

  • New York Daily News, please define "election-ready"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Sigh, it landed a Drudge link and is making the rounds today, but this Daily News piece pretty much defines what's wrong with journalism today.

    The headline:

    No political race in sight, but Hillary Clinton's camp is election-ready

    The article is almost too dumb for words. For instance, the catchy "election-ready" phrase is one the Daily News concocted. Meaning, nobody from the Clinton camp makes that claim. The Daily News, based on virtually zero evidence, announces to the world that Clinton is "election-ready," in a lame attempt to gin up controversy. (i.e. Will the overly ambitious SOS challenge Obama????)

    Here's the feeble peg for the entire non-story [emphasis added]

    Hillary Clinton says running for office isn't on her "radar," but she still has an eight-person political team and sports two overflowing campaign war chests.

    Her team transformed the former Democratic White House contender's massive campaign debts into a $3 million mountain of political cash, according to federal fund-raising records through the end of June.

    Only in the clueless world of the Daily News does $3 million represent a "mountain" of political cash for a potential presidential candidate. (Pssst NYND, Obama and McCain last year spent more than $1 billion on their campaigns.) And only in the clueless world of the Daily News does a staff of eight mean Clinton's "ready" to wage a national campaign.

  • Conservative: Birther is liberal media plot

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Who didn't see this angle coming?

    The good news is that writing in CQ, GOP political consultant Bill Pascoe writes:

    "Dear Birthers,



    "Serious Conservatives."

    The bad news is that Pascoe can't help blaming the liberal media for the birther mess:

    Am I the only one to notice that mainstream media attention to the "Birthers" has picked up in recent weeks -- and that this increased attention is coincident to the turn in Obama's approval ratings?

    A search of The Washington Post web site, for instance, on the term "Birther" yields as its oldest hit this one from July 6; a search of The New York Times, though, shows one June reference in passing and then the first real mention of the term on July 22.

    Far be it from me to assume one is the cause of the other -- as faithful readers know, I do my best to avoid falling into the post hoc, ergo propter hoc trap -- but, still, it is an interesting coincidence.

    Ironic, eh? In debunking the conservative conspiracy theory about the birthers, Pascoe suggest it's a liberal conspiracy theory in the press that's given the story legs in recent weeks.

    Hmm, so Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy and Lou Dobbs are in on it, too?

  • UPDATE: No WaPo correction for Feldstein falsehood

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by Martin Feldstein that falsely claimed that President Obama supports a British-style health care system in which "the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried."

    It was a glaring and obvious falsehood based on Feldstein's incorrect definition of the phrase "single-payer." The kind of thing that is so obviously false, it shouldn't have taken the Post more than 30 seconds to write up a correction once the mistake was pointed out. And the mistake was explained by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait by mid-day yesterday, and by Paul Krugman later in the day. But the Washington Post has not yet run a correction, online or in print.

    In case the Post hasn't noticed, the health care debate is kind of a big deal right now. Correcting this obvious falsehood as soon as possible is the only responsible thing to do.

  • Now Kurtz blames Matthews, rather than Dobbs, for birther nonsense

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Howard Kurtz seems to be committed to making his conflict of interest as obvious as possible. Here's Kurtz during an appearance on the conservative Hugh Hewitt radio show:

    HUGH HEWITT (host): The second story, the birthers. Today, the National Review joined me, [radio host] Michael Medved, most every center-right responsible conservative I know in denouncing the idea that the president isn't a citizen. But yet this story continues to have legs. Today, the Hawaii guy came out and said, no, we got his birth certificate, how long does this go on, Howard, and do you sense that the media is - and by that I mean, mainstream media, is having fun with this because it has the potential to embarrass some conservatives because of the, in the way that the [9-11] Truthers embarrassed some Democrats?

    KURTZ: Probably in some quarters. I applaud the conservatives who have stood up and said basically this is wacko stuff, there's not a shred of evidence, I don't want to associate with these folks. I don't understand why this has gotten so much prominence, particularly on cable television in the first place if we make a judgment as journalists that this is basically a lot of garbage, then why do we have to spend a lot of time flogging this horse? The guy who has been flogging this the most, it seems to me, is Chris Matthews on MSNBC. And while I agree with his general point of view on this, which is that it is a load of baloney, he - I don't think there's been one show in the last seven where he hasn't dragged somebody on - G. Gordon Liddy, whoever - in order to beat up on that person. So -

    HEWITT: I think he does it because --

    KURTZ: -- I think it's got enough attention.

    HEWITT: -- It's low-hanging fruit. It's such an easy target. It's making fun of people with marginal grasp of logic and so I think it's just too easy for him, but I hope it goes away soon because it does divert from the key discussion, and this is the question, is healthcare being covered the right way.

    No mention of CNN. No mention of Lou Dobbs. No mention of Jonathan Klein's defense of Dobbs. Instead, Kurtz singles out Chris Matthews, who has been debunking the birther nonsense, as the person primarily responsible for it, rather than Lou Dobbs, who has been promoting it.

    And, as I'm sure you know by now, CNN pays Howard Kurtz a nice chunk of change. Might that have anything to do with his refusal to hold CNN -- whose president, Jonathan Klein, defends Dobbs' promotion of birther conspiracy theories -- responsible for their conduct?

    How could it not?

    (See also InstaPutz)

  • Uh-oh, what's Jonah Goldberg going to say about Beck's "racist" claim now? (UPDATED)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because this morning, Goldberg, a frequent Beck show guest, wouldn't clearly condemn the attack.

    Instead, Goldberg, rather unconvincingly, claimed he hadn't seen the clip of Beck calling Obama a racist. (Yes, Goldberg wrote about the topic w/o taking ten seconds to find the video and watch it.) And then Goldberg meekly suggested that Beck ought to maybe "clarify" his remarks because, ha-ha, maybe Beck was just goofing around when he called the President of the United States a "racist."

    But now Beck has doubled down and stands by his claim. We eagerly await Goldberg's unequivocal condemnation of Beck. (Don't laugh!)

    UPDATED: Goldberg has now taken the time to watch the Beck clips and (surprise!) thinks Beck has nothing to apologize for in terms of calling Obama a racist. i.e. If Beck believes it, than he ought to say it!

    In other words, in just the span of roughly 24 hours it has suddenly become CW within conservative media circles that our president is "racist." Which means it's now open season for conservatives to play the race card.

    Did we mention Goldberg's a frequent guest on Beck's show. But certainly access to that mass media platform, which allows Goldberg to pitch his books, has nothing to do with Goldberg's rather clumsy and unsightly attempt to justify Beck's claim that the President of the United States is a racist, right?

    Didn't think so.