Conservative media figures who have promoted conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate have recently used their platforms to promote the anti-health care reform disruptions of congressional town hall events. Indeed, the disruptions resemble similar efforts by birthers to disrupt town halls.
Media figures promoting town hall disruptions also have promoted birther theories
Lou Dobbs on town hall disruptions: “I asked you to make certain to make your voices were heard when our representatives got home ... and that has begun.” On August 3, Dobbs said: “I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love it when the audience of this broadcast is engaged and making their voices heard. And you're getting louder by the day. It's an amazing thing to watch. What started at the April 15 and July 4 tea parties continuing this weekend as congressmen left town for the August recess, at least.” He added, discussing the town hall disruptions: “Every time I ask each and every one of you to call into your congressman, to your senators, to this broadcast, I beg you to make your voice heard. And you're not only making it heard on this broadcast, you're making it heard by the people you elected to represent you. And that is a new concept. Our so-called leaders are beginning to listen to the people who put them in office. Friday, I asked you to make certain to make your voices were heard when our representatives got home from their just overwhelming duties on Capitol Hill, and that has begun. What happened over the weekend -- when Congressman Lloyd Doggett faced an angry but respectful audience at a town hall meeting in Austin -- in fact, at a Randalls grocery store -- he got an earful. Listen to what happens when Congressman Doggett starts talking about health care legislation.” [United Stations Radio Networks' Lou Dobbs Show, 8/3/09]
Dobbs has repeatedly promoted birth certificate conspiracy theories.
- DOBBS: “What's really crazy about this is all the president of the United States has to do is produce a birth certificate. That's all that has to be done, and it would be over.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 7/15/09]
- DOBBS: “Is President Obama -- should he produce his birth certificate -- the long form, the real deal? Should he be a little more forthcoming?” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 7/15/09]
Sean Hannity: Recess “creates the best opportunity for people to go like they did to Claire McCaskill's town hall meeting.” On July 29, Hannity said: “There's going to be no floor vote immediately” on health care reform “so members have time to go home and read the bill, which, by the way, creates the best opportunity for people to go like they did to Claire McCaskill's town hall meeting or go to [Rep. Russ] Carnahan's town hall meeting or go show up wherever there's any representative. That -- this is your moment, your opportunity to stop this thing." [ABC Radio Networks and Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, 7/29/09]
Hannity: “Now, so far at these town hall meetings, you're doing terrific.” Following reports of several town hall disruptions occurring nationwide, Hannity declared on August 3: “This is what's going to stop this. You are. You're gonna make it happen.” He went on to say: “Now, so far at these town hall meetings, you're doing terrific. You're standing up to these bureaucrats. You're standing up to their phony platitudes, talking points, and bumper stickers. The polls are now turning against Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid, so now they're bringing out their own pollster to lie to you and find out a way how they can win the PR battle, and they're telling them that they've got to attack the insurance companies.” [The Sean Hannity Show, 8/3/09]
Hannity has questioned Obama's birth certificate.
- HANNITY: “Let me ask you a question: Have you ever seen the birth certificate?” [The Sean Hannity Show, 7/22/09]
Rush Limbaugh: If town hall disruptions are “an orchestrated event,” it's “about damn time.” On August 3, Limbaugh offered his “reaction” to a caller who noted that media outlets have reported the town hall protests are coordinated: “About damn time. We have had groups like ACORN and Democrat rent-a-mobs making up excuses and lying about things they oppose to affect public policy for years, while people like me haven't had time because we work. We do not protest for a living. We do not rent ourselves out to be part of mobs. So, if this is actually an orchestrated event, then I'm glad somebody on our side's getting in gear.” Limbaugh later added: “It doesn't matter to me one way or the other [if the protests are coordinated]. The people who are showing up are genuinely angry. And if their transportation is being facilitated -- about damn time. You've got to take these people on the way they play the game. The aggressor sets the rules in a conflict.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/3/09]
Limbaugh: Town hall protests “not ginned up; it's genuine. It's real.” Limbaugh defended the town hall protesters as being “orderly people,” not the “unruly mobs” he claims Democrats are describing them as. Limbaugh continued: “These are genuine voting American citizens. It is -- what these Democrats are accusing you of doing, who go to these town hall meetings, is exactly what Obama taught people to do. He's the community agitator. He's the community organizer. Obama is the guy who taught people how to show up at events like this over and over again and rip 'em apart and tear 'em down, disrupt 'em, and make sure they don't happen. And now the tables have been turned. It's happening to him, only this time, it's not ginned up; it's genuine. It's real.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/4/09]
Limbaugh has suggested Obama hasn't produced a valid birth certificate.
- LIMBAUGH: “God does not have a birth certificate. Neither does Obama. Not that we've seen.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/10/09]
Quinn & Rose on town halls: “You still have time to scare them to death.” On August 3, co-hosts Jim Quinn and Rose Tennent repeatedly aired audio of a female protester at a town hall event. After airing audio, Tennent cheered the woman on, saying, “Woohoo! Go girl! Yeah! Owwooo!” She continued: “Listen, we feel very, very strongly about this. This is visceral. This is -- this comes from inside, and we're speaking it out. And all of you, be encouraged by this woman. We need to get out there and do the same thing. This is their recess, OK? You cannot have a recess. There is no rest for us. You must get out there, find out where they're meeting, and show up. And be prepared to ask questions. Be prepared to show you are rejecting yet another government program. And I'll tell you what: Talking points? Yeah, there's nothing wrong with them. In fact, if you go to WarRoom.com and click on marching orders, there is a mock email that you can take and you can look over and read and digest and put it into your own words when you want to go out and speak to those people like [Sen. Arlen] Specter and [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius. ... [W]e still have time to do this." Quinn added: “You still have time to scare them to death.” [Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn & Rose, 8/3/09]
Quinn & Rose has promoted birth certificate conspiracy theories.
- QUINN: “Well, where's his birth certificate? We could have two illegitimate leaders.” [The War Room with Quinn & Rose, 6/15/09]
The Fox Nation: “Malkin Points You to Where the Town Halls Are” : From Fox News' website The Fox Nation on August 4:
The Fox Nation has asked readers: “Should Obama Release Birth Certificate?” A May 28 headline on TheFoxNation.com asked: “Should Obama Release Birth Certificate? Or Is This Old News?” The Fox Nation's birth certificate headline linked to a video of WorldNetDaily correspondent Les Kinsolving asking White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to “releas[e] a certified copy of his long-form birth certificate.”
Anti-health care reform protesters using same disruption tactics as birthers
Birthers disrupted a congressional town hall. "At a town hall meeting in Georgetown [Delaware], a woman demanded to know why [Rep. Mike] Castle and his colleagues were 'ignoring' questions about Obama's birth certificate -- questions that have been put to rest repeatedly by state officials in Hawaii, where the birth certificate and all other credible evidence show that Obama was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. When Castle countered that Obama is, in fact, 'a citizen of the United States,' the crowd erupted in boos, the woman seized control of the gathering and led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance." [Politico, 7/27/09]
Birther “ringleader” Orly Taitz called on people to “demand action” on birth certificate at town halls. “Moments after speaking with POLITICO Saturday, Taitz posted a call to arms on her blog: 'I believe it is a serious concern and I hope that each and every decent American comes to town hall meetings with a video camera and demands action,' she wrote.” [Politico, 7/27/09]
Media Matters for America interns Zachary Aronow and Zachary Pleat contributed to this item.