Any political issue is exactly as serious as the media decides to treat it. There have been a lot of changes in the influence of the media over the last 30 years, but that is still more or less the truth – even the stories that were pushed by blogs and alternative media only became stories when the media were effectively shamed into covering them.
Questions about Obama’s eligibility for President were not a serious news story because the media made the a priori decision to make fun of anyone who raised them. As we noted this morning, look at the brutal disrespect and mockery Obama birthers got every time they were allowed to appear on TV. The tone of this story, from day one, was that it was not a serious story, and anyone who brought it up was a crackpot.
Now as it happens, the media was pretty much right about the Obama birthers. But they would be equally right treating the Cruz birthers as crackpots, because they clearly are. The settled law for pretty much eternity has been that children of United States citizens who are born abroad are United States citizens at birth, the end. This is not an issue that serious people are contesting. Not even Donald Trump is alleging it directly, he is just cowardly claiming “OTHER people are saying this.”
Sara already brought up this point this morning, but look at the downright deference, courtesy, and respect Donald Trump now gets when talking about the birther issue:
This is birtherism. Treating this as a serious issue, when it clearly is not, is just a cowardly species of birtherism. The media knew bulls**t when they saw it with the Obama birther story, and they treated it accordingly. Treating the Cruz story as a serious question, while all the time just saying, “Hey, some people are saying this and who are we to say if they are right or wrong?” is just as bad as making the claim themselves – especially based on how they treated people like Orly Taitz.
Now comes FoxNews to join the party of treating this Ted Cruz birther thing as a serious allegation:
Cruz tried to brush it off. But other lawmakers – most recently, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – have kept the questions alive.
McCain, who is not exactly a Cruz ally, needled his Senate colleague in a radio interview with Phoenix-based KFYI. He said Cruz’ case is different from his own situation – McCain was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal Zone.
“I think there is a question. I am not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into. I don’t think it’s illegitimate to look into it,” McCain said.
Pelosi, asked about Cruz on Thursday, said it’s a matter for Republicans to decide but added: “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family and serving our country in Panama than someone born in another country.”
You know what’s an equally serious allegation? The allegation that Donald Trump himself is not a natural born citizen. I am serious, there are people who make it, and it’s 100% as serious as the allegation that Cruz isn’t one:
What Trump seems to forget is that questions have been raised in the past about his own eligibility for the Presidency based on the Constitution’s “natural-born citizen” clause. Back in 2011, when he was making an attempt of sorts at running for the Presidency, many of the typical birther websites were confronting the question.
Why? His mother, Mary Anne Trump (nee MacLeod) was born in Scotland. Politico‘s Ben Smith did a great job summarizing and satirizing the issue:
Trump’s mother, it should be noted, was born in Scotland, which is not part of the United States. His plane is registered in the Bahamas, also a foreign country. This fact pattern — along with the wave of new questions surrounding what he claims is a birth certificate — raises serious doubts about his eligibility to serve as President of the United States.
FoxNews and the other media outlets are complicit in peddling of crackpot conspiracy theories by treating them as subjects for legitimate discussion. They wouldn’t have on guests for a lengthy discussion of whether Sandy Hook was a false flag operation, or whether chemtrails are real, so why are they treating the Ted Cruz nonsense as an actual news story?