Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Media Strikes at Perry Again with Birther Nonsense

The Main Stream Media (MSM), and some not-so-mainstream at that, are taking Governor Perry to task for what they claim is Perry’s “raising the issue” of the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate (such as Jim Costa of CNN claimed today at the South Carolina press conference, whereupon Perry cut him off and put him in his place).  That is false on its face.

This is derived from an interview in the Parade tabloid that accompanies some Sunday newspapers, in which Lynn Sherr asked Perry if he thought that Obama was born in the United States.  His reply was “I have no reason to think otherwise.”  But Sherr (who clearly was the one who “raised the issue”) goes on to pursue the question, despite the fact that Perry had already given a straight answer.  Sherr says the reply is basically insufficient and wants a “definitive” answer, whether he really “believes it”.  Alluding to the birth certificate controversy that is the source of this nonsense, Perry basically asks if Obama can prove Perry’s birth certificate, then tries to bring up Donald Trump’s stance (over Sherr’s interjections; Perry had just had dinner with Trump) in a way to lead to the real answer to the question.  Trump’s doubt is a way to introduce Perry’s conclusion: “I have no idea.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s the President of the United States.  He’s elected.  It’s a distractive issue.”

John Harwood of CNBC brings it up again, but Perry taunts him about it in a way to bring up Obama’s college transcripts: “Well, look, I haven't seen his grades.  My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper.  So, you know, if we're going to show stuff, let's show stuff.  But, look, that's all a distraction.  I mean, I get it.  I'm really not worried about the President's birth certificate.  It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say hey, how about let's see your grades and your birth certificate?”  Harwood keeps at it, asking if his comments are some kind of joke, or whether he seriously has unresolved questions like Donald Trump, and Perry replies, “I don't have a clue about where the President – and what this – birth certificate says.  But it's also a great distraction.  I'm not distracted by it.  If those of you in the media want to talk about it that's fine, but I hope what you'll really get focused on is how are we going to get this country back on track. . . .”

Later still, the lead story on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer segment has David Frum and Donna Brazile (this is what passes for fair and balanced on CNN) talking about Perry and the birther controversy, with Frum adding that Perry has a problem with Obama’s “skin colour”.  I haven't seen any criticism yet of Frum's incendiary comment.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post takes up the issue with a quote from the Harwood piece (I suggest you read the Harwood section iconed [that’s a new word] above and see if Rubin tracks the intent of the whole section), then relates how several governors are distressed about “Perry’s decision to delve back into birtherism”.  Yet the quotes she attributes to Governors McDonnell (R-VA), Branstad (R-IA), and Barbour (R-MS) are generic on the subject that the birther question has been laid to rest . . . just like Perry (let’s try this again: “I have no reason to think otherwise.”)  The quotes say nothing about Perry, just the birther “nuttery”.

The MSM has been pumping this all day, which corresponds to the same day that Perry is announcing part two of his economic plan.  Yes, this is a distractive issue, and it doesn’t matter, except to the extent that the press and Perry’s naysayers can use it to try to sidetrack the more important story.

*****
Update:  The St Petersburg Times (of Florida, to help my international readers) contains a partial transcript and a link to a video interview with Perry, wherein he specifies that he believes that Obama was born in the US.  The relevant passage:
Adam:  Jeb Bush said the other day, the Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that Barack Obama was not born in America.  This came after you expressed doubts about that.  What would you say to him?
Perry:  I don’t think I was expressing doubts.  I was just having fun with Donald Trump.  So I …
Adam:  Are you comfortable that he’s an American citizen?
Perry:  Oh yeah.  It’s fun to, you know, lighten up a little bit.
Adam:  So you have no doubt that he’s an American citizen?
Perry:  I have no doubt about it.  But here’s the more interesting thing.  Let’s lay out our income taxes.  Let’s lay out our college transcripts.  Mine’s been on the front page of the paper.  So if we’re going to lay out all these things, let’s lay them all out.  So, whether it’s college transcripts or income tax, lay them all out.  Let the people take a look at them.
Indeed, the media published Perry’s college transcripts almost instantaneously, but still are sanguine about the sequestering of various transcripts and other documents for Obama.  This has become a general rule throughout the MSM – Republicans are fair game for any sort of deep, investigative journalism in regards to documentation, but Democrats get a pass.  The distinction is rather abrupt for any who care to see.

Dan Abrams of Mediaite, posting at Pajamas Media (The Tatler), is in general agreement with this post.  He feels that Perry should not have taken the subject so lightly, knowing as he must the proclivities of the media, and concludes:
Regardless, the mainstream media in particular, has an obligation to stop the cycle of speculation.  Instead, they are fueling it.

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