The headline in the Capitol newspaper The Hill said: “Pawlenty dismisses ‘birthers.'”
This I had to read. I even watched former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty deliver the speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, just to make sure I understood what this likely presidential candidate said about the issue of constitutional eligibility.
It turns out The Hill, like some other news organizations, completely misrepresented Pawlenty’s carefully chosen words, with which I happen to agree 100 percent.
Pawlenty said: “I’m not one who questions the existence of the president’s birth certificate. But when you listen to his policies, don’t you at least wonder what planet he’s from? On what planet do they create jobs by taxing the daylight out of people trying to grow jobs? On what planet do they try to reduce the deficit by spending even more? On what planet do they make health care better by putting bureaucrats in charge?”
I’ve been called “the king of the ‘birthers.” How is it that I agree with Pawlenty?
I don’t know any thinking, rational person who questions the existence of Obama’s birth certificate. Of course he’s got one. The question is not whether he has one. The question is what it says about where he was born and who his parents were. That question remains an open debate because the American people and all controlling legal authorities have been systematically denied a peek at any document that might offer an answer.
The Hill’s lead for the story said: “Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) explicitly distanced himself from ‘birthers’ during a highly anticipated speech before conservatives on Friday.”
Pawlenty did no such thing. He said nothing with which thoughtful “birthers” could disagree. He not only jokingly questioned Obama’s American birthright, he questioned what planet he was from. This is explicitly distancing himself from “birthers”? Only to pseudo-journalists who report caricatures and stereotypes as facts. Only to the kind of pseudo-journalists who think reporting is regurgitating nonsense they’ve heard Keith Olbermann say.
So, The Hill and other media organizations continue to accuse those of us leading the so-called “birther” movement of doing something we have never done. It’s really sad how far into the abyss my profession has descended since I entered it 35 years ago. There are people covering Washington that shouldn’t be covering city council meetings in Fargo, N.D. – people like The Hill’s Corey Dade.
What is it that so-called “birthers” believe?
We believe that when an elected official goes to extreme efforts to hide something as innocent as a birth certificate, there’s probably a reason.
When that elected official makes a habit of hiding virtually every meaningful document from his young life – school records, college transcripts, law review writings, health documents, travel records, etc. – you can be sure he’s hiding plenty.
This is journalism 101. As a former journalism instructor at the University of California Los Angeles, if my students didn’t recognize something that obvious after taking my course, I would have flunked them.
Yet we hear similar kinds of nonsense from virtually every so-called “news organization” in the country. It is as if they have fallen under a spell or they simply don’t have any journalism instincts.
Good journalists, with any seasoning at all, understand that politicians lie, deceive, obfuscate and conceal.
If you don’t start with that supposition, you will be hoodwinked every time you cover a story. You might as well become a publicity hack for politicians if you take their word for anything – including where they were born and who their parents were.
The scandal of Obama’s questionable constitutional eligibility is not just that our political system failed us in 2008. The scandal is compounded by how our “free press” continues to fail us through sophomoric misreporting and disinformation on the subject.