Media figures single out Dobbs for “fanning” flames of birther theories

Numerous journalists and other media figures -- running the gamut from conservative to liberal, local to national, and television to print and Internet -- have criticized Lou Dobbs for giving “credence,” “legitimacy,” and a “platform” to birther theories.

In recent days, as Media Matters for America has noted, CNN host Lou Dobbs has promoted the fringe notion -- labeled a “conspiracy theory” by his own CNN colleagues -- that President Obama has failed to produce a valid birth certificate. Numerous journalists and other media figures have subsequently criticized Dobbs for giving “credence,” “legitimacy,” and a “platform” to such theories. Media figures criticizing Dobbs run the gamut from conservative to liberal, local to national, and television to print and Internet:

  • In a July 24 post, senior producer Mike McPhate wrote:

Despite a widely circulated copy of his certificate of live birth, notices in two Honolulu newspapers, and other evidence, some won't let the issue die. Fanning the flame are commentators Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh, who have both suggested the question remains unresolved, and 10 House Republicans, who have co-sponsored a bill that would require presidential candidates to provide a copy of their original birth certificate.

  • On the July 24 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist described the birther theories as an “imaginary controversy,” then aired a clip of Dobbs saying, “The president obviously -- all he has to do is just produce the original birth certificate in Hawaii and be done with it.”
  • In a July 24 post criticizing the “Obama Birth Certificate Silliness,” Honolulu Advertiser blogger Kim Fassler wrote that "[s]ix months after Barack Obama was sworn into office, charges that his birth certificate is fake are not only NOT going away, they're apparently gaining momentum," and that "[p]artially responsible are mainstream figures who have, if not endorsed, then at least entertained the claims of the so-called 'Birthers,' including CNN host Lou Dobbs."
  • In a July 23 Associated Press article, national writer David Crary wrote:

Six months after Barack Obama's inauguration, a persistent and noisy legion of doubters won't let go of an already debunked claim that he is actually a foreign-born, illegal president.


Mainstream Republicans who want the issue to go away are having a tough time stamping it out as the so-called “birthers” resurface, with assists from talk show host Rush Limbaugh and CNN's Lou Dobbs.

The AP later reported that John Feehery, a GOP consultant and blogger for, “suggested that Dobbs and other broadcast figures were seeking to capitalize on the controversy to boost ratings. 'It says more about the media culture we're entering and the decline of responsible journalism, and less about the political realm,' Feehery said.”

  • On the July 23 edition of Dobbs' CNN program, CNN contributor Roland Martin -- who said during the segment that he voted for Republicans and Democrats -- criticized Dobbs for “making” and “continuing” the story, stating (from CNN's transcript):

MARTIN: Lou, you're the one who is still making this an issue.

DOBBS: No, no, please. Again, did you hear what I said?


DOBBS: I believe he's a citizen.

MARTIN: OK. So, why even continue the story? Is it keeping you up at night? It is a non-issue. It is irrelevant. You say so many Americans care.

MARTIN: No, it is an irrelevant issue. It's been established. He's the president.

  • In a July 23 editorial headlined “Obama birth certificate doubt is a silly canard,” the San Antonio Express-News wrote that “the story lingers on and has received renewed attention recently. Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs are among the professional talkers who peddle it, and a Republican congressman has even introduced legislation demanding that presidential candidates produce their birth certificates.”
  • During the “Psycho Talk” segment on his July 22 MSNBC program, host Ed Schultz criticized Dobbs, saying he has “joined the right-wing conspiracy theory crazies” by promoting the “fringe birthers movement.”
  • During the July 22 edition of the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams reported that birther theories haven't “gone away, becoming a staple of blogs and conservative talk radio.” Williams then aired a clip of Dobbs stating that “all the president of the United States has to do is produce a birth certificate,” later adding that “legal scholars, liberal and conservative alike, are in widespread agreement that Barack Obama is fully qualified.”
  • During the July 22 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews said that "[n]utty questions about the president's birth certificate are being fueled by conservative talk show hosts like Rushbo himself and of course some others like Lou Dobbs and the lunatic fringes out there." editor Joan Walsh later stated that “lately with Lou Dobbs, with Liz Cheney, with that crazy at the Mike Castle rally, it's spreading. Something's going on here.”
  • Los Angeles Times media writer James Rainey wrote in a July 22 article that Dobbs has been “offering the (nominal) credibility of his syndicated radio show, which airs on dozens of stations, and the CNN television brand as a platform for assorted wing nuts, whose conspiracy fulminations about Obama had previously been most virulent in the more disreputable reaches of the Internet.” Rainey also quoted director and former CNN employee Brooks Jackson stating that “CNN should be ashamed of itself for putting some of that stuff on the air.”
  • Gawker's Alex Pareene also explored the birther movement in a July 22 post, "The Birthers: Who Are They and What Do They Want?" and cited Dobbs, among others, as a figure granting the birthers “legitimacy,” stating that he was among the “semi-'repsectable' [sic] 'mainstream' pundits, writers, and politicos who know Obama is eligible to be President, but stoke the fires of nuttery in order to keep the base riled up, and maybe to win the attention of a few more suckers.”
  • In a July 22 post,'s Alex Koppelman criticized Dobbs for “giving the birthers a boost” by, among other things, hosting Alan Keyes and Orly Taitz.
  • On her July 21 MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow criticized Dobbs for “using the platform of his CNN show to advance the birther conspiracy.”
  • In a July 21 post headlined “Just When You Thought Talk Show Hosts Had Reached The Peak Of Demonization,” TheModerateVoice editor in chief Joe Gandelman wrote that Dobbs' comments about Obama's birth certificate “would be considered 'far out' and 'flaky' in other times but today there is a)an audience for it and it gets big ratings, b)a need by many in politics to try and take someone out who they disagree with on policy.”
  • In a July 21 post on the conservative blog, Allahpundit wrote:

Slowly but surely, this meme is going mainstream: Lou Dobbs picked it up (credulously) in his radio show this morning, Rick Sanchez goofed on it this afternoon, even Rush is starting to talk about it -- foolishly, really, given how it distracts from the momentum conservatives are building against ObamaCare.

Media Matters has noted that Allahpundit has previously criticized birther theories.

  • In a July 21 article, wrote:

Despite our best efforts, the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama may not actually be an American citizen continues to roll on. Indeed, in the past week, a pair of prominent talk show hosts have provided a forum -- and at times supportive words -- to the notion that the president and officials in the state of Hawaii are hiding Obama's “real” birth certificate from the public.

PolitiFact named Dobbs as one of those hosts.

Media Matters has noted that CNN personalities and some conservative media figures have criticized birther theories and mocked their adherents.