Huckabee's Constantly Evolving, Consistently Dishonest Explanation For His Obama/Kenya Comments

On Saturday night, Mike Huckabee opened his Fox News program by addressing the media firestorm he caused last week when he said on Steve Malzberg's radio program that President Obama grew up “in Kenya” with his Kenyan father and grandfather, which supposedly led Obama to have a “very different” view of the British than “the average American.”

Huckabee also discussed his comments criticizing Natalie Portman for glamorizing out of wedlock births.

Here's the video of the segment, followed by a list of reasons why Huckabee's defense was dishonest and disingenuous:

First of all, while Huckabee purported to address the controversies surrounding both comments, he neglected to actually play his original remarks for his audience, choosing instead to just describe the incidents. He apparently did so in order to afford himself the opportunity to misrepresent both exchanges.

Let's start with his Obama grew up “in Kenya” comments.

  • In his explanation, Huckabee says that his remarks were a “verbal gaffe” and a “verbal slip.” As Media Matters and many others have pointed out -- including conservative George Will in yesterday's Washington Post -- this explanation doesn't wash. Not only did he repeat the “in Kenya” remark twice, it served as the basis for his assertion that Obama has a deep-seated dislike of the British dating back to his grandfather's supposed experience in the Mau Mau Rebellion. As likely intended, Huckabee viewers who hadn't heard the original comments would have been left with the impression that Huckabee merely slipped up once in the course of a sentence. He didn't.
  • Huckabee described his comments to Malzberg as, “I said President Obama spent part of his early life in Kenya. I meant to say Indonesia. His father and grandfather were from Kenya. My verbal slip did not go unnoticed.” But that's not what Huckabee said to Malzberg. Huckabee didn't merely say that Obama “spent part of his early life in Kenya.” He told Malzberg that Obama grew up there “with a Kenyan father and grandfather.” While Huckabee attempted to excuse his comments by explaining that Obama's father and grandfather were from Kenya, he didn't bother to address the fact that Obama did not grow up “with” either of them. Obama met his father only once, and never met his grandfather.
  • Huckabee seems to have abandoned the defense he pivoted to on both the O'Reilly Factor and a radio program last week, in which he claimed that he clearly spelled out on “page 183” of his book that Obama grew up in Indonesia. As Media Matters pointed out, this is, quite simply, a lie. Not only did Huckabee not mention Indonesia on page 183, but a Kindle search of his book revealed that he did not mention Indonesia in the entire text. Huckabee did not attempt to address his “page 183” lie, which was also called out by CNN's John King.

In regards to his comments about Portman, Huckabee claims that the media unfairly portrayed his comments as an attack or “slam” on Portman. Once again, he neglected to play the comments in question. Had he done so, his viewers would have heard him say it's “troubling” to watch Portman “or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts” of having out of wedlock children, because it sets a bad example for single mothers who are less affluent. He also used Portman's Oscar speech to proclaim that “it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea” of out of wedlock children. Apparently saying Portman problematically boasts and sets a bad example doesn't count as an “attack” to Huckabee.

By not playing either of his controversial comments and instead choosing to dishonestly recount them, Huckabee is preying on his audience's trust in him. As he has revealed repeatedly this week, that trust is misplaced.