Bruce Thornton

The Unexamined President and His Media Enablers

As usual, the mainstream media are getting wrong the significance of President Obama’s release of his actual birth certificate. In the liberal-left narrative, the “birther” issue was always evidence of the Republican Party’s fringe kookiness: as the Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas crowed, “What better way to show how out of touch and irrational Republicans are than to rub this in their face?” Moreover, according to The New Yorker’s David Remnick, any questions about Obama’s past are “a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering,” on the part of crypto-racists unwilling to accept a black President because of “fear of the Other.” But these juvenile ad hominem attacks can’t illuminate, any more than releasing the birth certificate did, the truly significant issue––the media’s complicity in leaving unanswered an unprecedented number of questions about the least investigated President in modern history.

The enabler and abettor of this studied indifference to the past life of the most powerful man on the planet has been the media. Partly this reflects their rank hypocrisy, the way they protest their Olympian objectivity and exalted status as the “watch-dogs” of the republic, ever vigilant and ready to expose the secret abuses and machinations of the powerful, even as they shill for the Democratic Party and its various clients like trial lawyers, race-mongers, and public employee unions. Just compare the birther controversy––which the President could easily have defused three years ago by releasing the long-form certificate then––with the despicable, much more serious slander that claimed President George Bush knowingly lied about the presence of WMD’s in Iraq, getting Americans killed just so he could enrich the oil companies and his corporate cronies.

Rather than dismissing the canard for the lie it was, the mainstream media abetted it. For example, they made a hero out of Joseph C. Wilson, whose misleading and incendiary July 2003 New York Times editorial, concerning Iraq’s attempt to buy uranium from Niger, claimed that “some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat,” and thus fueled the “Bush lied” narrative. As for the Democratic leadership, they too endorsed and exploited this lie by attending the premier of Michael Moore’s cinematic libel, Fahrenheit 9/11, in June 2004. Former President Jimmy Carter further legitimized this vicious fantasy when he invited Moore to sit next to him at the Democratic National Convention. Imagine the hysteria from the media if a Republican ex-President had invited to his party’s convention someone who had viciously libeled a sitting President. The liberal disdain for swamp-fever conspiracy fantasies indulged by knuckle-dragging cretins mysteriously disappears when the target is a conservative.

This double standard generated by ideological bias has left much of Obama’s life in the shadows, thus inciting the continual questioning of those obscurities. Nor does it help that the President continues to refuse to release other information that could put all these allegedly paranoid fabrications to rest. Given that the media have gushed so much over Obama’s intellectual brilliance, why not release his undergraduate transcripts or his LSAT scores? The refusal to do so merely deepens the suspicion that there is something to hide. The same holds true for his medical records. If all these suspicions were merely the fruit of right-wing paranoia and racism, as the liberal commentariat claims, wouldn’t a release of all pertinent documents settle the nonsense once and for all? Didn’t a liberal icon once say “sunlight is the best disinfectant”?

We can understand Obama’s reticence, even if we are unclear about its motive. What is more disturbing is the media’s refusal to apply the same scrutiny to Obama that they inflict on all other major political figures. Of course, politics accounts for this sudden delicacy about the lives of politicians. Anything that might damage the media’s champion will be ignored if possible, and rationalized or downplayed if not. But something else is at work here––the old race-politics tactic of meeting any and every criticism of a black politician with the charge of racism. Good liberals that they are, most reporters cannot bring themselves to write anything that might bring down the wrath of the race lobby and its attendant boycotts and denunciations. Better simply not to investigate anything that might reveal Obama to be something less than the leg-tingling messiah the mainstream media have fabricated, peddled, and protected for several years.

So add to the political double standard the racial one neatly summarized in Remnick’s reductive statement quoted earlier. What is a legitimate investigation of a conservative white politician is “race-baiting” in the case of a liberal black one. Both double standards reflect a dereliction of journalistic duty, and provide further evidence that the mainstream media are now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.

(photo credit: Patrick Rasenberg)

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