Pundits Say Trump Can Put Years Of Birtherism To Rest By Just Saying He Believes Obama Is American

After five years of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pushing the conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in America, his campaign released a statement on September 15 claiming that Trump actually does believe Obama was born in America. Media figures claimed that once the candidate actually makes that statement himself, he will put birtherism “to bed.” But media shouldn’t let Trump whitewash his multi-year effort to push this conspiracy theory.

Trump Campaign Releases Statement On Birther Theory

Trump Campaign: “Mr. Trump Believes That President Obama Was Born In The United States.” The Trump campaign put out a September 15 statement claiming the Republican presidential nominee believes President Obama was born in the United States after “having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate.” The statement went on to claim that Trump “did a great service” by “bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised,” and that he and is now focused on issues including jobs, terrorism, and taking care of veterans. From the September 15 campaign statement (emphasis original):  

"Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.

In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again." – Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor [DonaldJTrump.com, 9/15/16]

Media Claim Trump Needs To End Birther Theory Himself And Suggest He Put Issue Behind Him If He Did

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: Birtherism Will Dominate News Cycle “Unless Donald Trump Gets Out There … And Says It Himself.” While discussing the Trump campaign’s statement, MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough said that unless the candidate “gets out today and says it himself” that “of course Barack Obama was born in the United States,” this story will continue to “dominate the news cycle this weekend.” From the September 16 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:    

JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): Yeah. So it is -- this is once again one of these issues that if it were a different candidate against Donald Trump, they would be on much higher and more solid ground than, say, where Hillary is right now. But it's going to be -- it's going to dominate the news cycle this weekend unless Donald Trump gets out today and says it himself instead of having his staff members say it, that of course Barack Obama was born in the United States. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 9/16/16]

CNN’s Dana Bash: Trump Will “Put It To Bed And He’ll Move On” When Asked About It. CNN’s Dana Bash suggested that Trump “understands … he’s going to be asked” about his stance on President Obama’s citizenship in his next interview, and said the candidate will “put it to bed and he’ll move on.” From the September 15 edition of CNN’s CNN Tonight with Don Lemon:  

DON LEMON (HOST): The interesting thing, Dana, is whether or not these words will come out of Donald Trump's mouth and why wouldn't he just get up there in front of a podium, in front of an audience or something and say, “ You know what?”

DANA BASH: Well I'm sure he understands -- look, he knows he’s going to be asked about it and probably in the next interview that he does, but once he does this and now that he's done that, that interview will happen, he'll put it to bed and he'll move on. And I actually tend to agree with Phillip, who said earlier that there's some thinking that maybe his core supporters will abandon him because of this.

LEMON: Yeah.

BASH: His core supporters, I just, having been on the campaign trail and talking to so many of them particularly during the primaries, they support him for the fact that he's different, that he's an outsider, that he's against trade deals. Immigration. Not this. I mean that might be one of them, but that’s not -- this is not going to lose votes for him, I truly don’t think. [CNN, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, 9/15/16]

CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “I Think This Helps Him. … If He Comes Out And Says, ‘Look, The Birther Thing Is Behind Us.’” CNN co-host Chris Cuomo claimed that the Trump campaign’s birther statement could help the Republican presidential nominee if he comes out and says himself that “the birther thing is behind us. It's not real.” From the September 16 edition of CNN’s New Day:    

CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): I think this helps him. I think if Donald Trump, if you want me to editorialize. I think that, I think that if Donald Trump, but I mean you're going to throw it around falsely. Let’s use it genuinely. If he comes out and says, “Look, the birther thing is behind us. It's not real. It was wrong. I asked the question, he brought up the birth certificate. I believe it. He was born here. It's over.” [CNN, New Day, 9/16/16]

Fox’s Brian Kilmeade: “They’re Waiting For [Trump] To Say It.” Fox host Brian Kilmeade said a “ question” for Trump to answer now is whether he believes the president is a U.S. citizen. Fox’s Jeanine Pirro pointed to the campaign statement and said that “Mr. Trump needs to put that one away.” Kilmeade responded that “they’re waiting for him to say it.” From the September 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): One thing Donald Trump has got to look out for, stuff that he said yesterday, an easy question to answer was the birther comment. Do you think President Obama was born here. “I’m not going to answer that now.” Now you have another story line.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Well the campaign came out and had said --

JEANINE PIRRO: They said yes. Put that one away. You know what, Donald -- Mr. Trump -- needs to put that one away, end of the story, let’s move on. There are too many issues like what’s going on right now in the country and at the border.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): But he campaign did tweet out and said he does think he was born in the United States.

KILMEADE: Right. They’re waiting for him to say it.. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/16/16]

Trump Campaign Hopes Announcement Will End Birther Questions

Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs: Trump Announcement “Meant To Rip Off Band-Aid On Obama Birth Issue, Get Rid Of It Now So It’s Not An Issue In 1st Debate.” Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs tweeted that Trump’s campaign leaders said his September 16 announcement at his Washington, D.C., hotel “is meant to rip off band-aid on Obama birth issue.” She said they “describe his speech this morning as doing smart thing to remove last vestiges of an issue Clinton campaign could attack on.”

[Twitter.com, 9/16/16, 9/16/16, 9/16/16]

Media Shouldn’t Let Trump Whitewash His Years-Long Promotion Of This Conspiracy Theory

Media Shouldn’t Let Trump Erase Five Years Of Birtherism. Trump’s birther campaign wasn’t just a fleeting comment; it helped lay the groundwork for his current presidential run. His sustained effort in the spring of 2011 to raise questions about the president’s birthplace endeared him to both fringe conservative media outlets that are now supporting his presidential bid and Fox News, which devoted dozens of segments to helping him push the conspiracy theory. In actuality, President Obama released his birth certificate three years before Trump became a leader on the conspiracy theory. The candidate also suggested President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, released in 2011, was fake and spent the next several years promoting birtherism on his Twitter account. In the beginning of 2016 Trump even floated the idea of writing a book about Obama’s citizenship in a conversation with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. The media have a responsibility to debunk Trump’s lies and not let him get away with whitewashing his role in promoting a campaign to delegitimize the first black president. [Media Matters, 9/16/16]