Entry from April 28, 2011

“Obama’s release of birth certificate does little to allay ‘birther’ fears” proclaims this morning’s Washington Post. Not if they can help it anyway! After all, as today’s Guardian announces  “Republicans will rue their birther backing.” Why wouldn’t The Guardian, as much as The Washington Post, want them to go on ruing it for as long as possible, even after the Democrats’ turkey-shoot of yesterday’s revelation? If the “birther” nonsense is, as The Independent puts it “the rumour that just wouldn’t go away,” it is because media organs like these don’t want it to go away. Keeping the rumor alive among a fringe group of conspiracy theorists who could be represented as being one and the same as “Republicans” was always going to serve the media’s own political agenda.

Nor did it matter that no elected Republican of any importance shared their views. Donald Trump, of course, is not only not elected but, on the Post’s own showing yesterday, more Democrat than Republican anyway. But it was as much in the media’s interest as in that of Mr Trump, and the producers and sponsors of his reality TV show, to make this buffoon look like a serious candidate for the Republican nomination to oppose President Obama next year. Or at least to fasten him on the Tea Party as the national leader it has hitherto lacked. “The timing of the release of Barack Obama’s birth certificate expertly made a fool of Donald Trump — and the GOP with him,” the Guardian sub-head explains, quite without any qualms as to the ease with which this supposed triumph over the President’s opponents was accomplished. Meanwhile, real Republicans with much more serious questions about his leadership can be ignored or caricatured as being equally stupid and unattached from reality. “What better way” gloats the Daily Kos “to show how out-of-touch and irrational Republicans are, than to rub this in their face.”

Indeed, Kos now admits that Karl Rove’s theory of the administration’s complicity in keeping the rumors before the public, though “patently ridiculous at the time” is so no longer. “The White House has smartly thrown kerosene on the fire. Rove is right, the issue is impossible for the media to cover without making Republicans look insane.” I don’t think it’s quite right to say, as Abe Greenwald does “that Barack Obama’s strategic cunning in response to birther lunacy ranks among his most impressive political achievements,” since a willing media made it way too easy for him. But he’s right to notice that birtherism’s continued existence can only make life easier for President Obama. “Without lifting a finger to respond to the lunacy, you enjoy a readymade security shield that takes the sting out of every legitimate charge against you and renders it the sad, baseless delusion of a massive unhinged right wing.”

And it’s not as if the Dems don’t have their own fringe crazies whom they naturally prefer to keep hidden away. Yesterday’s Guardian contained an article by Megan Carpentier rightly pointing out the similarities between the birthers of the right and the equally conspiracy-minded lefties who question the maternity of Trig Palin. She doesn’t mention the fact that the difference between the two bunches of wackos is that the media need to keep the latter out of sight as much as they need to keep the former on display, since this is how they can best advance their own partisan aims. Ms Carpentier has a forum in an organ of the left because she thinks that “what Trig birtherism comes down to” is “misogyny.” Really what it comes down to is the left-wing equivalent of the right wing paranoia of the birthers, but no one in the media will ever equate Trig birthers with Democrats.

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