The most absurd thing I’ve ever heard a president of the United States waste time talking about

After a breakfast meeting this morning, as I was about to get out of my car to go into ADCO, I heard, live on the radio, the most insane presidential press conference I’ve ever heard in my life.

Barack Obama was actually taking time out of his day to address the insane birther “issue.”

Above is the image he posted on Twitpic. Here’s a story on it:

Obama’s ‘Long-Form’ Birth Certificate Is Released


President Obama on Wednesday posted online a copy of his “long-form” birth certificate from the state of Hawaii, hoping to finally end a long-simmering conspiracy theory among some conservatives who asserted that he was not born in the United States and was not a legitimate president.

The birth certificate, which is posted at the White House Web site, shows that Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is signed by state officials and his mother.

“The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country,” Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, wrote on the Web site Wednesday morning. Mr. Pfeiffer said on the site that Mr. Obama had authorized officials in Hawaii to release the document broadly.

In a statement to the news media Wednesday morning, Mr. Obama said he decided to release the document in an effort to end the “silliness” about his birth that threatened to distract from the serious issues facing the country.

“Over the last two and a half years, I have watched with bemusement,” he said in brief remarks. “I’ve been puzzled by the degree to which this thing just kept on going.”…

Yeah, ditto, Mr. President.

And today in the paper, I see that 41.2 percent of GOP voters in SC belief that Obama was definitely or probably born in another country. Which tells me that 41.2 percent of GOP voters should be barred from ever entering a voting booth again. Yeah, I know that there are certain constitutional problems that raises, but come on. When we talk about the drawbacks of democracy, the fact that people who would believe something like this about a guy, just because they don’t like him (for reasons that don’t bear a lot of close scrutiny, if you’re at all squeamish), get to vote just like everybody else is one of the biggies.

Oh, and for those of you who want to spend more of the precious moments you have remaining in your lives on this “issue,” here’s the president’s correspondence with the state of Hawaii Department of Health, seeking the document he posted today.

81 thoughts on “The most absurd thing I’ve ever heard a president of the United States waste time talking about

  1. Doug Ross

    Imagine if Obama had done this three years ago as he should have. I never doubted that he was born in Hawaii but I also never doubted that he played this out for full effect. He could have ended the discussion at any point.

  2. bud

    Read today’s 538 piece in the New York Times. A poll was conducted that showed a significant portion of the population believes Donald Trump was not born in the USA. Nate Silver’s explaination is that a certain number of people just like to pull the chain of the pollsters who conduct these kinds of ridiculous polls.

  3. bud

    Sorry Doug but you are wrong. There are STILL going to be idiots who believe this document is forged. It will never go away completely. We’ll see how it plays out but I’m not sure Obama wouldn’t have been better off just to ignore the whole thing and let the GOP idiots show their ignorance.

  4. Brad

    Say what? He “played it out?” HE played it out?

    I think he was doing exactly what I would have done — ignoring it as the nonsense it is.

    Apparently there’s been lot of new buzz about it in recent weeks, precipitating this absurdity of the president taking time to address it. (I kept expecting the theme from “Twilight Zone” to play in the background of what I was hearing on the radio.)

    I suppose it was on television. All the news I’ve been consuming has been about Libya, and Syria, and Afghanistan, and Japan, and budget debates, and the stock market, and, you know, collard greens…

  5. Phillip

    @Doug: makes me wonder why now? Could it be that taking this step will raise the stakes and make those who (inevitably) will view this as a forgery, a conspiracy, look even MORE ridiculous? Which GOP candidate will have the “courage” to remain a “birther,” thus earning the undying devotion of Tea Partiers and that 41% of the “Hardcore Hate-filled” of the GOP in this state, for example?

  6. Steven Davis

    “Which tells me that 41.2 percent of GOP voters should be barred from ever entering a voting booth again.”

    I could list several reasons why liberals shouldn’t be allowed in a voting booth. Robert Ford, Alvin Greene, Jim Clyburn, just to name a few.

  7. Steven Davis

    I see where you’re going… got your hand on that worn out race card. I hear the white SC Democrat is all but extinct. Brad, if they were in your district, would you vote for any of those three? I’m guess that you wouldn’t. Where’s my race card, I’ve never used it so it may take me a minute to find it.

    If you’d like I could add Inez Tenenbaum, Al Gore, any of the Kennedy clan, to add some deathly pale skin to the mix. And since this is a discussion on a national level not just a local SC level.

  8. Juan Caruso

    According to D. Trump, Obama’s hidden educational records may be the next target. Could Obama really pen his own book, or was it really ghost-written?

    Both sides are playing a dangerous game. Regardless of polling summaries, however, the Republican Party (of which I am not) has clearly and unequivocally remained divorced from it. Not so much the Democrat(ic) Party (of which I also am not one), which haskindled the suspicions with lawyerly obstacles including over two years of footdragging.

    No one of intelligence has been fooled by either the pathetic charade or the artificial distraction set up and publicized by a Dem lawyer and party official from Philidephia.

  9. tim

    There was no ‘foot-dragging’. There is a process in place for proving you are legally able to be president by satisfying the birth requirement. Each state sets that policy and by any standard that currently exists, Obama met it, state by state, getting on each state ballot. What this is about is moving the goalpost since you don’t like what happened (i.e. Obama got elected). The rules didn’t work for you, “Change the Rule”.

    If John McCain’s dad had married a foreign national and he was born on foreign soil, who thinks this would be an issue?

  10. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I’m white and Democratic, and born and raised right here in SC. My husband and nephews are also white Democrats,as are several Rotarians(!)

  11. bud

    I remember a controversy over Barry Goldwater’s eligibility in 1964. He was born in AZ before it was a state. And what about John McCain? He WAS born in a foreign country. This really is a tempest in a tea pot. Or perhaps a tempest from the Tea Party.

  12. Karen McLeod

    Meanwhile the state is getting ready to over-ride the psychiatrist, although there is sometimes good reason for using the name brand rather than the generic?

  13. bud

    Didn’t Trump say he would release his tax records if Obama released his birth certificate? Time to put up or shut the f up.

  14. Mike

    I’ve always heard that one of the main similarities between God and Obama is that God doesn’t have a birth certificate either.

  15. Doug Ross

    It took less time for Obama to produce the birth certificate than the SC legislature spent debating the state vegetable.

    Obama could have resolved this years ago in 5 minutes. No fuss, no ado… just produce the document just as anyone who has to get a passport has done a million times.

  16. Phillip

    @Steven: Leaving aside the race issue for the moment (and the lumping in of Clyburn with Ford and Greene), you named one state senator, one failed general election candidate, and one US Representative. The difference, of course, is that statewide the GOP holds every office, plus nearly all the US Representatives (except Clyburn). So when 2 in 5 Republican voters in SC believe Obama is not American, when 1 in 4 believe he is a Muslim, and then we remind ourselves that this is the dominant political culture operative here in our state, then it simply is no wonder that we lag behind in so many ways. For various reasons, we simply have a higher concentration of people filled with hate and ignorance here, who, rather than evolving, have chosen to double down on that ignorance and stubbornness (egged on to that by powerful and rapacious interests, even when it means voting against their economic self-interests).

    Ann Richards used to tell that old joke about Bush the First being born on third base and thinking he hit a triple. One could take that a step farther about South Carolina’s politics to say that the state is still standing at home plate, having been called out on strikes, yet thinking it has hit a home run. That’s the only image I can think of that adequately explains the doubling down on failed, worn-out, discredited ideas.

  17. Norm Ivey

    The Why now? question may be answered by the fact that Donald Trump made an issue of it. To some extent, it makes Trump look like a bit of a fool to have pursued the non-issue, and weakens him as a candidate (not that I think he is serious about it in any case).

    I have always taken Obama at his word that he wants to repair the divide that is Washington. The release of the certificate gives the more moderate Republican members of Congress some cover to tack back to the center and away from the fringe.

  18. Brad

    Phillip, it’s not about “hate.” It’s much, much more basic than any kind of PC buzzword like that.

    It’s about, as voters, not knowing one’s ass from a hole in the ground (and yeah, it’s my blog, so on rare occasions, when it’s useful for emphasis, I will allow myself to use language like that), and yet still voting — and the fact that such proud ignorance DOES dominate in SC. And frequently in the nation, as well.

    So I take your point, and agree with it. But when you say “hate,” you bring up a point of contention for left and right to yell at each other about (“I don’t hate anybody,” “yes you do”), when it’s not about left and right or black and white or Democrat and Republican or anything like that. (And if you want to argue that, I’ll step over onto Steven’s turf and point out that the Alvin Greene fiasco DID demonstrate incontrovertibly that this kind of deep, profound ignorance in the voting booth is NOT limited to white Republicans.)

    Seriously, as I grumbled before the election last year, we have a serious crisis in democracy in South Carolina. People who do not have better judgment than to place credence in such foolishness as this, or no better sense than to vote for someone they’ve never heard of for the United States Senate, have NO business making such critical decisions.

    And no, I don’t know of a fair way to weed out such people from voting, or at least no way that would pass constitutional muster. But this is a profoundly serious problem. And it IS holding South Carolina back — way back.

  19. Doug Ross

    And I’ll throw out the conspiracy theory that Obama timed the release of the birth certificate to the same day as Bernanke holding his first press conference. Better to distract the lapdog media and the ignorant public from hearing about all the money the Fed has given to well connected Wall Street types.

    Let’s see what leads page 1 tomorrow. The easy story or the tough one.

  20. Doug Ross


    Which do you think has a greater chance of happening: having an informed electorate in South Carolina or implementing term limits?

    If you can’t make the people smarter, at least we could get rid of the Harrells, Leathermans, Knotts, McConnells (i.e. the people who run the state).

  21. Steven Davis

    Talking political parties in this blog is like trying to talk political parties in Nancy Pelosi’s district office.

  22. Brad

    Oh, and to Tim and Bud…

    McCain was born in the Canal Zone. I suppose one can argue whether that was a foreign country or not, but to me, it’s about the most American place I’ve ever been. When I lived in Ecuador in the early 60s, we’d occasionally take trips up to the Zone (and you haven’t flown until you’ve ridden in a C-47 over the Andes) to get a concentrated taste of home. You could drink water out of the tap without fear of hepatitis, and watch “My Favorite Martian” on TV. More American than apple pie.

    Add to that the fact that we essentially brought Panama into existence so we could build the canal, and even the idea that the area outside the Zone was foreign becomes a bit shaky…

  23. Steven Davis

    The trouble I’m having with politics in this state is I don’t know who the Republican party is. On one hand I’m told it’s the elite, rich white males and on the other hand I’m told it’s the white-trash trailer dwellers. Being a middle-class white male, I really don’t fit either stereotype and haven’t been a Democrat since I graduated college.

  24. Steve Gordy

    This whole hoo-hah about Obama’s birth certificate reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy’s comment that you might be a redneck if you believe that the moon landing was faked and professional wrestling is real. That The Donald has any credibility at all on any issue of significance gives me the feeling that P.T. Barnum was right about what is born every minute.

  25. Doug Ross


    I’m paying attention. If Obama had produced the COLB before, why did he have to do it again today? Was what he produced today exactly what he produced before?

    Brad normally takes the side of allowing big brother enormous latitude in peeking into the lives of private citizens… usually with the explanation that if you have nothing to hide, what’s the big deal? How is this any different? If Obama had nothing to hide, what’s the big deal if his office put a scan of the document on, put a copy of it in the Library of Congress, and allow anyone who wanted to look at the real thing do so (maybe charge $10 to apply to the national debt).

  26. Steven Davis

    Hey, if Alvin Greene can successfully represent his party for a Senate seat, I don’t have a problem with Trump running for his party’s presidential seat. I’m pretty sure that Trump can not doing anything as well as Obama can. At this point, it’s time for the country to throw in the towel. There are times when I think a good ol’ revolution would be healthy for the future of this country.

    BTW – I don’t think the moon landing was faked and I do believe professional wrestling is fake.

  27. tim

    A. Brad. I should have made clear that I knew he was born in the Canal Zone. Me? I think if you have one parent American and you are born in their care in a foreign country, that counts as Natural Born American. That’s me.

    B. If the Canal Zone is so rock solid, why make the point about Hawaii in 1959 in the first place? I guess by that theory, Pearl Harbor wasn’t an attack on the US.

    C. Doug, I am sorry that the Whitehouse didn’t consult you to find out that you would have been more satisfied with a release 2 years earlier, and that gee, maybe that’s their decision to release when they want to to control the news cycle. That’s politics, not a conspiracy.

  28. Burl Burlingame

    Doug says, “just produce the document just as anyone who has to get a passport has done a million times.”

    THAT document was produced years ago. Pay attention. It’s the exact same Certificate of Live Birth I was given from the State of Hawaii Health Department when I got my passport, and which Obama provided in 2008.

    Also, Obama travelled to foreign countries before he was president — how do do you think he GOT a passport then? Yep, the COLB.

  29. Brad

    Doug — he never hid ANYTHING! What he didn’t do is what I would not have done, either: lift a finger to make a special request for something that should have been completely unnecessary.

    What bothers me is that things are so out of hand in this country that the POTUS actually will, at any time, bother with such nonsense.

  30. Mark Stewart

    I’m just waiting for the year a Puerto Rican runs for President…

    I’d vote for them in the primary just to see what kind of a ruckus would result among the dimwits.

  31. Mark Stewart

    What makes Obama mundane as Presidential material is his Ivy League education – although this is yet another thing that differentiates him from your average Joe.

  32. Doug Ross

    “He tries to be a regular guy, getting photographed drinking beer and playing basketball (which arose in part from his desperation to be a regular BLACK guy).”

    Wow. So all the years he played basketball from high school onward were to fit in with the black community? Do you have ANY way to back up that statement? You really think he was desperate to be a “regular” black guy?

    What is a “regular” black guy?

  33. Doug Ross

    And, FYI, I think George Bush was even more evasive on his National Guard service. That was information that should have been easy to release and he and his staff covered it up.

    Andrew Sullivan echoes my sentiments on the birth certificate:

    “So he had the power to get this into the public eye and yet resisted until the country’s polity was almost paralyzed with distraction. I know this was an ethically legitimate position after releasing the short-form document proving that he was indeed born in the US. I know it was politically savvy because, by the rules of jujitsu, Obama allowed the nutty right (is there any other variety with influence now?) to make fools of themselves.

    Nonetheless, I think this should have been done long ago.

    Because a president has to put his public responsibilities before his pride and his privacy. That’s the price of the job – to defuse or debunk conspiracy theorists or just skeptics with all the relevant information you have.”

  34. martin

    Burl, please explain the difference between the Certificate of Live Birth and the Certification of Live Birth to Doug Ross.
    Explain how the former is not normally released to any Hawaiian and how the latter is the only document considered to be the legal, official birth record.
    I believe today that Lee Muller is pretending to be Doug Ross.

  35. Brad

    You mean, he wasn’t traveling on a Kenyan passport?

    As I’ve said before, what I think this is all about goes beyond race and ideology and all that stuff we usually hear about…

    The thing is, Obama is DIFFERENT — very, very different from anyone who has ever been president of the United States, or even come close to being a president of the United States.

    It’s a sum of several parts. First, no offense, Burl, but he’s from Hawaii, which isn’t a part of America in a geographic sense, and wasn’t a state until two years before he was born — which is kinda different from Arizona, which on account of Manifest Destiny and all, nobody really thinks of as being an exotic, faraway place, but more as someplace that was always gonna be part of the US once everything fell into place.

    Then there’s his family history. Way more complicated than “he’s black” (and y’all have heard my rant about that, about the fact that he’s totally outside the whole American conversation on race, or at least the “black” part of that equation, seeing as how not one of his ancestors was brought to this country in chains). Set aside that his Mom was white and his Dad was black. His Dad was a foreigner who didn’t stick around for his birth. A man he only met once, when he came to Hawaii for a brief visit. His mother then married another foreigner, an Indonesian, and his half-sister is Indonesian. Again, set aside race — this is all exotic as all get-out, to a country that only recently got so it could tolerate the idea of a Catholic president.

    Then, there’s his personality — cerebral, unemotional, above the fray. Not many people in this reality-TV-loving country can see themselves in a guy who speaks and carries himself the way Obama does. Me, I like it. But Joe Sixpack finds it creepy and off-putting.

    Poor Obama. He tries to be a regular guy, getting photographed drinking beer and playing basketball (which arose in part from his desperation to be a regular BLACK guy). But it looks forced. Joe Sixpack knows better. Joe Sixpack has seen him bowl — or whatever you call what he did to score a 37.

    Now, before some of you who don’t know me well think I’m criticizing Obama here, I’m not. I’m explaining why he stands out in American history from a long line of people from either WASPish aristocratic backgrounds or Leave it to Beaver Land. He’s just way different, and people trying their best to put a name to that difference, when they are not particularly articulate people themselves, and somewhat lacking in subtle discrimination, call him a socialist and a Kenyan and a Muslim. Because to him, he’s just that different, and those are ways (ways that they THINK they understand) of describing people who are different. He’s SO different, they figure, there’s gotta be some conspiracy or something behind it all…

    Me, I sort of identify with the guy, as I explained in this long piece back during the election. I also identify strongly with Zonian McCain, as I explained the following week. (And Burl, if you haven’t before, you should read both of those pieces — they’re both about my experiences in Hawaii.)

    But I don’t consider myself to be Mr. Average.

  36. Steven Davis

    So, in short… he’s a different kind of guy who has done nothing for the past two years.

    @Mark – I think that’s the same mentality the Democrats had when they voted for Alvin Greene.

  37. Steven Davis

    I forgot to mention the fact the Democrats were just exercising their version of “Hey y’all, watch this” when they pushed the Greene button. It was good for a laugh until the results came in and everybody had the same idea.

  38. Norm Ivey

    A couple of years ago (after 25 years of attending classes), USC required me to file a copy of my birth certificate to prove I was an American citizen. (Can’t have those illegals getting educated in SC!) They accepted my Certificate of Live Birth from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Nobody asked for my long form certificate.

  39. Scout

    Well the timing and his explanation of the timing make sense to me, Doug. The analogy that occurs to me is it very much mirrors a basic tenet of classroom management. If the purpose of a behavior is attention seeking and you want to extinguish it, you don’t respond to it…and it should go away. If you can truly succeed in ignoring it and getting the rest of the class also to not pay attention, this works. Unfortunately our society has developed a great many mechanisms give undue attention to inappropriate behaviors, which reinforces them. But still you have to try and ignore it. And Obama did. But if the behavior at any point becomes such a distraction that it infringes on the learning of others, you have to address it at that point. Obama clearly stated his reasons for addressing it thus now are that it has become too big a distraction to what the conversation needs to be about. Makes sense to me.

  40. Burl Burlingame

    It’s all my doing:

    No, Brad, I understand that Hawaii is still the most foreign place you can go and still be in the United States. But then that kind of diversity is what I celebrate about America.

    Myself, I was born in Alaska when it was a territory. I grew up on foreign military bases. I’m from Hawaii. But guess what? I’m just as American as anybody who never travelled more than ten miles from Mayberry.

    (And Brad, Obama’s father was there for the birth. He split 10 months later.)

  41. Phillip

    Brad, of the words I used, I’ll agree that “ignorance” is the biggest problem here, especially the “proud” variety to which you referred. What that implies to me is that a lot of people know better, somewhere deep in their souls, but prefer to maintain a kind of blind faith, or rather a “blind fantasy” of the USA as they would like it to be. This is where the “hate” comes in and I think it’s naive to discount it. Of course ignorance and hate are not absolutely exclusive to any political orientation, and also it is certain that most sincere conservatives who philosophically oppose the President’s policies do so with no regard for his unusual background, even here in SC. But when one speaks of the unique legacy of the South, the substantial numbers of these ignoramuses indicated in these polls indeed reflects a kind of hatred that is particular. You refer to Obama’s being “different” and it’s exactly that difference that freaks these people out. Sure it’s rooted in ignorance: all hate is. It’s not just Obama of course, it’s all the changes in the country that people see, of which he is merely the most obvious and visible symbol.

    Sure, the Alvin Greene fiasco is also indicative of “ignorance” but it’s hardly in the same category. What that says is that many voters don’t educate themselves sufficiently before going to the polls, and in that case virtually nobody knew anything about either candidate, or even that there WAS a Democratic Senate primary, so most just voted for the first of two names on the ballot. A travesty, to be sure, but different from the “ignorance” that says “no matter all the evidence to the contrary, I’m just going to blindly believe Obama is a foreigner and a Muslim because my mind cannot accept anybody leading this country who is not from “either WASPish aristocratic backgrounds or Leave it to Beaver Land,” as you put it.

  42. Pat

    What the President produced before was the “short” form-just the official record with no hand written signatures. It was on his campaign site. Once he proved he had a birth certificate, then the birthers decided it had been “planted” in the records and they wanted the “long” form. Now the birthers are calling this a forgery. President Obama can’t win with this crowd. He has a short form, a long form, newspaper announcements, people that remember the birth. It is time to move on. I would never be able to produce a long form. All Ihave is a little square of paper issued by the county health department. Every one that would remember my birth are dead except for my mother. This is such a non issue but the birthers have succeeded in making front page news.
    By the way, wouldn’t someone born in a US territory still be a citizen and eligible to run for president?

  43. tim

    What we now have is new standard of proof to be President: The Obama Standard. Apparently now he is the only one who has had to meet it, so he is, ipso facto, the single most legitimate President in the history of the United States. Every single new candidate may have to pony up the laundry list of proof, scrutiny, analysis of potential forgery, etc. I would reckon that at least one of the, what is it now, 1700 or so, Republican ‘water-testers’ might have a problem.

  44. Brad

    Doug said, “let’s see what leads page 1 tomorrow.”

    Well, Bernanke led the WSJ. And Amazon pulling out led The State. That, and the local “suicide by cop.”

    No story about the birther nonsense on either front. Which is as it should be…

  45. bud

    I’m not sure everyone is quite getting the larger implications of this story. Simply put, the Republican Party has been take over by a collection of complete lunatics. It’s a very dangerous situation when we have the leadership of one of our major parties who won’t come out and completely denounce this nonsense. They were given their chance on many occassions and generally offered up only lukewarm rejections of the whole birther mess. Frankly this is what happens when the MSM and “respected” bloggers like Brad Warthen continue to hound away at the paradigm that the two parties are equally responsible for partisan politics. I reject that worldview. The GOP has become a fringe party with little to offer the American people. They should be condemned for their acceptance of people into this once proud party that have pushed the envelope of civil discourse to the point that the POTUS had no choice but to address the issue head-on. Doug is completely wrong to suggest Obama has even the slightest bit of blame in this issue. This is 100% the fault of the Tea Party crowd, the GOP leadership and the media. And they all should hang their head in shame.

    Now can we get back to the problems of the nation? I doubt it given the history of Whitewater, Swiftboating, Birthering and other assorted faux scandals. But maybe, just maybe the American people are finally fed up with the Tea Party crazies. We can always hope.

  46. virginia

    Everyone who was a military dependent born in Italy, Germany and every occupied land had to go through naturalization on return. But there were records (in triplicate) but no computers. Some of my records were lost, I doubt any of my classmates from Italy, Germany, Texas, Washington DC and Augusta, Ga.(What an armpit of the South) would remember me. I don’t remember any of them.Yes, even my own (in Laws)family have said ” you’re not a REAL American” because of living abroad (and being educated) so often. Yes, so it’s an abyss to the depths of dementia.Terror endtimes behind every bush.
    What about DNA certification that proves his “ethnicity” as half-caucasian…or how about,the DNA evidence that Palin’s child is her offspring and not some teen-outof-wedlock-welfare Queen’s.The Bernanke’s grades and resume should also be on the birthers’ wishlist.It begins a whole new commission like Les Mis…without the songs.

  47. Mark Stewart

    Doug and Stephen,

    Sorry guys, try as I might I can draw no connections between the difficult Constitutional questions the tricky status of Puerto Rico would pose in a Presidential election and that situation’s relationship to either Sarah Palin or Alvin Greene.

  48. Brad

    Ah, but see, I was talking about newspapers — not about a print entity that was conceived to imitate television…

    Seriously, I’ll net you’ll find that nonsense on a number of papers’ fronts. It just wasn’t on the first ones I saw. And Bernanke was not ignored…

  49. SusanG

    I aqree that “he’s different” is more than just “he’s black”. But being black is a significant part of it — which I think will become more explicit than it has been as Trump pivots toward “he only got into Harvard because of affirmative action”.

  50. Doug Ross

    Well, you’d be 100% wrong.

    From the Newseum website
    that shows the majority of front pages for U.S. newspapers, here’s what I find today:

    New York Times: Birth Certificate yes, Bernanke no

    Boston Globe: Two small pointers to each story

    LA Times: Birth Certificate is front and center, Bernake zero

    SF Chronicle: Neither story.

    Chicago Sun Times: Front page 2/3 of the space is a copy of the birth certificate; No Bernanke

    Atlanta Journal Constitution: Birth Certificate lead story; No Bernanke

    Charlotte Observer: Birth Certificate front page; No Bernanke

    Orlando Sentinel : Neither

    Tampa Bay Times: Obama birth certificate front page nearly entire page photo of him; Bernanke nothing

    Houston Chronicle: Obama birth certificate front page; Bernanke nothing

    Dallas Morning News: Obama birth certificate top of front page; Bernanke – small pointer to business section

    I guess your condescension towards USA Today will have to extend to the majority of the major papers in the United States.

    The media is complicit in making a trivial issue into front page news. It’s the easy route for an industry headed toward irrelevance.

  51. Brad

    Um… when was the last time you heard me say I thought America’s newspapers were doing a great job?

    Actually, you don’t hear much about me from it one way or the others, because who would listen to a guy who got canned?

    To me, there are few things sadder or more off-putting than a guy moaning about how lame his former employers are. Off-putting to me, anyway, and therefore presumably to some other people. And I don’t want to look like that to anybody…

  52. Doug Ross

    Are you still going to suggest that Bernanke wasn’t ignored by the media and that the Obama birth certificate didn’t dominate the front pages?

    The Wall Street Journal is primarily a financial newspaper. They would be expected to lead with Bernanke. Nobody else cares. Until the national debt keeps driving inflation up and up.

    Sadly, the best reporting on the government and financial industries (two partners in crime) is being done by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone.

  53. bud

    Looks like Doug’s done his homework. I’m midly surprised by these finding but certainly not shocked. Whenever the POTUS gives an address, no matter what the subject, it should be covered. What’s more disturbing though is how the Tea Party has managed to hijack the political process with this non-issue for the course of the last few months. The MSM did play an important role in that and should be ashamed. This was something that should have been ignored. Then again, the MSM has been doing the GOPs bidding for some time now. Why should they stop now?

  54. bud

    Brad’s made an interesting point here, probably without even knowing that he did it. Brad has a vested interest in not wanting to appear to be a victim. Therefore he avoids any criticism of the MSM. This shows just how very difficult it is as a journalist to be a completely impartial reporter. Since everyone is prejudiced in some way I believe it is virtually impossible to find a completely impartial news report. That’s not a criticism so much as a warning. Don’t ever completely believe any news report.

  55. tim

    I would also give a listen to the Planet Money team on NPR News. They are doing a great job of clarifying complex topics.

  56. Brad

    Well, except that USA Today is still as good as it ever was, more or less. I’m just going by rough impression here, since I don’t read it except as particular pieces are called to my attention.

    But I’m echoing what a former editor of mine, Buzz Merritt out in Wichita, used to say when people asked what he thought of USA Today. This was back in the 80s, when it was a new phenomenon. He was diplomatic, sort of. He said, “USA Today does what it does very well.” Which is accurate. Or was back then, anyway.

    USA Today, and the more mainstream national papers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are not doing as well as they once did. But they still have enough revenues to produce an impressive product (each in its own way).

    The same can be said of other media — on the NATIONAL level, from TV to blogs. On the metropolitan or state level, all media are suffering to the point that they are shadows of their former selves. Small or niche pubs — which don’t try to publish daily, and never had large staffs or big operating costs — are often getting along quite well. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s still a lot of money to be made if your readership or viewership is national. But it’s those metropolitan and state and regional publications — the ones that, among other things, let you know what was going on at the levels of government that make most of the laws and ordinances that affect our daily lives — that have been crushed almost out of existence by the evaporation of their business models.

    The national media aren’t going to cover local (except for garish coverage of freaky crime or weather events), and the niche pubs can’t really cover the bases as thoroughly as they need to be covered (although you’ll see pubs like the Free Times bravely trying, which I’ve given them snaps for before, such as on the Alvin Greene thing). There just aren’t any newspapers (or TV or radio stations) of record on that critical state level anymore. And in South Carolina, where state politicos need to be held accountable more than anywhere else I’ve ever been, that’s tragic.

  57. Doug Ross

    Since I travel a lot, I get to read USA Today very regularly. I think the coverage is pretty balanced and the amount of information provided is pretty good. It’s not the NY Times and doesn’t try to be. What I do like about its editorial page is that it is standard procedure to allow an opposing view to be printed right below the main opinion piece. That should be the way all editorial pages work.

    Also in my travels, I get to read many local papers. There are still plenty of good ones. I’ve been in Columbus OH for the past three months and it’s a pretty good parallel city to Columbia. State capitol, dominated by a state college (Ohio State). The Columbus Dispatch is far superior read to The State. Same goes for the Tampa Tribune and the Salt Lake City Tribune.

    Now that The State has put all its USC sports stories behind a paywall, I’m not sure what is left to read in the paper.

  58. bud

    We’ve certainly kicked the State around quite a bit here. And for the most part with pretty good reasons. Yet I continue to read the thing. It provides some information, especially the obituaries. Where else can you find out about people you know who recently died. I’ll continue to read the State because it’s what I have easily availible in the morning. But I’ll continue to shake my head and long for the days when we had not one but two great papers in Columbia. Sigh. The good ole days are gone forever.

  59. Burl Burlingame

    The newspapers that have survived are more USAT-like. There’s the hand of the marketplace for you. The people who whine about newspapers not covering things they way they want aren’t buying newspapers anyway.

    Also, Bernanke might have gotten more coverage if he’d actually said anything interesting in his press conference.

  60. virginia

    The fact he had a press conference was historic if not Kabuki anyway. The fact he’s had to “elucidate” the Great Unwashed and distract the mess we are in.

  61. Brad

    Oh, two quick things…

    Burl catches me in an inaccuracy — I said Obama’s Dad was gone before he was born, but it was shortly after. Sorry about that. Of course, my point remains the same.

    Doug essentially accuses me of racism, or at least of white guy presumptuousness, for my offhand remark about Obama’s basketball playing and trying to be a regular black guy: “Do you have ANY way to back up that statement? You really think he was desperate to be a ‘regular’ black guy?”

    Well, let’s see… uh… NO. Not any more than I have PROOF that he tries to seem like a regular guy, period. That’s just the way I’m interpreting it.

    And what I’m interpreting is what I read in his book about back when he was playing basketball at Punahou at the same time he was struggling to establish a racial identity. I went into all that (although not the basketball part) in my “Barack Like Me” column.

    Actually, Obama relates an anecdote about resenting, or at least being suspicious of, a white person looking at him in those days and asking him whether he liked to play basketball.

    So if I hurt the president’s feelings on that, I’m sorry. But the fact that he was struggling mightily at that stage of his life to figure out how to be a black man — something he had few role models for at Punahou — it didn’t seem to me like a gigantic leap of interpretation…

    To quote the author of “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” about that period of his life: “I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America.”

  62. kc

    Shame on the media for giving so much attention to that destructive clown Trump.

    The whole sorry spectacle makes me sick.

  63. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    I bet Mrs. Burlingame isn’t stamped with a sell-by date linked to a prenup!

    Donald Trump–putting the “value” in Family Values.

  64. Doug Ross

    I don’t know. I would hope a guy who was elected President would have enough self confidence that he wouldn’t feel the need to prove his blackness.

    I’m still struggling with the concept of what a regular black guy is. Besides playing basketball, what do regular black guys do? I’ve heard rumors of certain eating habits or behaviors in movie theatres, but I’d like to hear from the expert.

  65. Burl Burlingame

    Nope, still got my original Mrs. Burlingame.

    If Brad remembers what Punahou kids were like, Obama’s personality makes more sense

  66. Brad

    See, y’all, Burl and I went to PUBLIC school in Hawaii, unlike Obama. And speaking of basketball, we were STATE CHAMPS in our senior year — in spite of having a team of mostly “tall, skinny haoles,” as someone from Kamehameha, the team we beat in the finals, characterized our team before the big game.

    As for Doug wanting elucidation on what makes a “regular black guy” — I was going to answer him, but then a guy out in my audience started yelling, “NO! Don’t go there! Don’t open that door!”

    Yep, I’m what they call a regular wise guy…


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