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Obama Chides Media For Role In 'Birther' Controversy

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Obama Chides Media For Role In 'Birther' Controversy

Obama Chides Media For Role In 'Birther' Controversy

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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President Obama had some choice words this morning for the press corps as he released his birth certificate. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik has that story.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: There comes a moment in almost every American presidency when the commander-in-chief turns media-critic-in-chief. Let's go back to what you just heard, how Mr. Obama started his remarks today.

BARACK OBAMA: Let me just comment first of all on the fact that I can't get the networks to break in on all kinds of other discussions.


OBAMA: I was just back there listening to Chuck.

FOLKENFLIK: That's MSNBC's Chuck Todd.

OBAMA: He was saying it's amazing that he's not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it.

FOLKENFLIK: Mr. Obama said that for too long the nation has been distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers. Notice, however, the president's words didn't criticize the carnival barker, he criticized those who get distracted, like the press corps sitting in front of him.

This seemingly fabricated issue has dogged Mr. Obama for three years, first in the Democratic presidential primaries and then kept alive periodically in the press by claims made by a small minority of his critics. Some television interviews recently - and there have been a bunch - notably failed to contradict Donald Trump or others casting doubt on where Mr. Obama was born.

NBC's Meredith Vieira and ABC's Christiane Amanpour acknowledged those remarks passively. Amanpour did not challenge the Reverend Franklin Graham when he said this...

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: The president, I know, has some issues to deal with here. He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I don't know why he can't produce that.

FOLKENFLIK: Today, President Obama said that during the budget battle two weeks ago...

OBAMA: The dominant news story wasn't about these huge monumental choices that we're going to have to make as a nation, it was about my birth certificate.

FOLKENFLIK: Now, that would appear to be a flat out exaggeration. But a review by Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism says cable news did devote a lot of time to the matter. The liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America says guests on Fox News have questioned Mr. Obama's birth 52 times since the start of March and disputed those guests only eight times.

Of late, Fox News anchors have explicitly thrown cold water on skeptics of Mr. Obama's birth. Here's Shep Smith on Monday.

SHEP SMITH: Fox News can confirm the president of the United States is a citizen of the United States, period.

FOLKENFLIK: CNN just sent correspondent Gary Tuchman to interview on camera the Republican former Hawaiian secretary of state, who had examined the actual birth certificate, and another person born on the same hospital wing at the same time. Mark Whitaker is CNN's new managing editor for Global News Gathering.

MARK WHITAKER: We've spent a lot more time, to the degree that we've covered this story, a lot more time focused again on what the real facts are with reporters on the ground, as opposed to just what Trump was saying.

FOLKENFLIK: Whitaker has brought a renewed emphasis on in depth reporting to CNN. In this case, Whitaker says, CNN helped discredit Trump, yet immediately after President Obama stopped speaking, CNN cut to - who else, Donald Trump.

WHITAKER: The alternative is to ignore him, right? To ignore the news, which is not something we do.

FOLKENFLIK: As Trump spoke, he made fresh false claims about his standing in a CNN presidential poll. So, news alert, the president was born in Hawaii. It's as true today as it was in August 1961. If you want to see the birth certificate, by all means, take a look for yourself at,, or whatever site you prefer. It's all there.

David Folkenflik, NPR News.

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