Back in the days before the Internet, senior political reporters at the “serious” media outlets wouldn’t write about personal scandals directly. They would “analyse” the “impact” of scandals on “perceptions.”
That way, everybody could pretend that they weren’t discussing Gary Hart’s “liaison” with Donna Rice, they were just discussing its impact on Gary Hart’s political future.
The challenge for journalists today is to somehow get the “birther” issue into their copy (because it generates a ton of hits) without alienating the good opinion of their colleagues, all of whom in New York-Washington media circles are resolute in their belief that “birthers” are insane.
Back to the old dodge! Don’t talk about the issue. Talk about the politics of the issue.
So it is that David Weigel of Slate today publishes a longish piece about the “birther” issue going “mainstream.” He credits Donald Trump for pushing the issue out of the chat rooms and into whatever passes for the “mainstream” today. He even identifies “two schools” of birther thought:
One reason Trump has been able to do this is that two schools of birtherism have developed since 2008, and one of them has become a surprisingly comfortable place for conservatives to lounge. There have always been Orthodox Birthers. They start with the belief that Obama cannot be eligible for the presidency. They trust evidence they find online—an erroneous report about “Obama’s grandmother” saying he was born in Kenya, for example—which stays online forever, just like amateur diagnostic reports of how crashing planes couldn’t possibly have brought down the Twin Towers. If that evidence is challenged, they look to theories about what the founders thought “natural born citizenship” meant. Phil Berg, the attorney who filed the first birther lawsuits and who held a “March on Washington” in 2010, says Obama lost his citizenship because a school form from Indonesia calls him Indonesian. Another theory says Obama can’t be president because his father was Kenyan and that made his son a British citizen by default. (This theory would disqualify Trump, whose mother was Scottish.)
What Trump is embracing, and Corsi is selling, is Reform Birtherism. It’s deductive. “There’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like,” said Trump last week. “I don’t know what is on the document,” said Corsi in 2009. The truth is unknowable, because Obama is hiding something about his birth documents.
It goes without saying that Mr. Weigel makes it clear that he thinks “birthers” are insane. Slate meanwhile reaps the unqiues from Google Search. We’d never do anything like that.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.