September 16, 2016

AP Ignores New Developments, Still Insists: ‘No Evidence’ That Hillary Started ‘Birther’ Rumors

The press continues to ignore reality by insisting that it’s a settled matter that Hillary Clinton was never involved in fomenting and promoting the Barack Obama “birther” rumors.

Even today, with damning new evidence that a campaign apparatchik started such an effort, and that a confidant whose relationship with the Clintons goes back to Bill Clinton’s presidency pitched the story to a former journalist at a respected news service, reporters Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire at the Associated Press, which deserves far less respect, insisted, as if it’s an undisputed fact, that “there is no evidence” that “the ‘birther movement’ was started by Hillary Clinton.”

The AP pair’s “shut up, we say” attempt was contained in their report on GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statement that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”

But Trump also weighed in on where it all started, and this is what set Colvin and Lemire off:

REVERSING COURSE, TRUMP ADMITS OBAMA WAS BORN IN THE US

After five years as the chief promoter of the false idea that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, Donald Trump reversed course and admitted on Friday that the president was – and then claimed credit for putting the issue to rest.

… But as Trump sought to put that false conspiracy theory to rest, he stoked another, claiming that the “birther movement” was started by rival Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that that is true.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it,” Trump said. “I finished it, you know what I mean.”

While the birther theory was pushed by some bloggers who backed Clinton’s primary campaign against Obama eight years ago, Clinton has long denounced what she’s called a “racist lie” that sought to “delegitimize America’s first black president.”

The AP pair is actually pretending that Mrs. Clinton denunciations have anything to do with proving where the “conspiracy theory” started. They don’t. Their “proof” isn’t proof at all.

Early Friday afternoon, Kyle Drennan at NewsBusters ran down the press’s own contradictory findings in the matter. His post demonstrates that “the Clinton camp,” i.e., people in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign campaign and others with a media and/or Internet and social media presence who supported her effort to defeat the-Illinois Senator Obama for the nomination, were involved.

That was enough for several members of the Morning Joe team at MSNBC to declare several months ago that Hillary Clinton started it all. Note how arch liberal Mika Brzezinski is in complete agreement, and even tries to get former Tennessee Democratic Senator Harold Ford to zip it:

Transcript (bolds are mine):

JOE SCARBOROUGH: For Hillary Clinton to come out and criticize anybody for spreading the rumors about Barack Obama when it all started with —

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: On 60 Minutes.

SCARBOROUGH: When it all started with her and her campaign passing things around in the Democratic primary. Rich. Now, listen, the Republicans are wrong for doing what they’re doing. But it started, this started with Hillary Clinton. And it was spread by the Clinton team.

BRZEZINSKI: We’re just telling the truth.

SCARBOROUGH: Back in 2008.

BRZEZINSKI: I really, Harold, please, don’t, don’t.

FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR HAROLD FORD: But Mika, you can’t tell me to stop when the two of you are making comments.

If any of you have a, if there’s a basis, an actual evidentiary basis for what you’re saying, then I would agree with you.

SCARBOROUGH: That they’re the ones that spread it in 2008.

FORD: That spread what in 2008?

SCARBOROUGH: That Barack Obama – that Barack Obama may not be a (unintelligible)

UNIDENTIFIED PANELIST: Well we should ask Heilemann this question, because he’s the official, the official story of the 2008 campaign.

FORD: I don’t, I don’t recall that, but if you’re telling me that’s the case, I just don’t recall it.

SCARBOROUGH: John Heilemann?

HEILEMANN: It was the case.

FORD: It was the case?

SCARBOROUGH: It was the case. Thank you, John Heilemann.

BRZEZINSKI: And didn’t she go on 60 Minutes and not actually say no? She said, “Oh he says he is.” What was that? Harold?

HEILEMANN: I’m offering my ruling.

(crosstalk)

HEILEMANN: I’m affirming, I’m affirming, I’m affirming the Scarborough-Brzezinski case.

(Note: That Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. is clearly one of the “it” rumors to which the panel was referring.)

So the AP’s Colvin and Lemire, as well as so many others in the establishment press, are now effectively claiming that John Heilemann, who wrote the book that went “deeper behind the scenes of the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin campaigns than any other account of the historic 2008 election,” is lying.

As if we needed it, two developments today moved the nexus of the birther movement’s initiation even more obviously closer to Mrs. Clinton herself, to the point where reasonable people must conclude that the effort was undertaken with her knowledge, quite possibly following her general orders (“Get dirt on this guy!”), or even under her specific direction.

The first is that a former Clinton campaign manager has admitted that the “born outside the U.S.” contention was first promulgated by a “staffer” within the Clinton campaign:

Patti Solis Doyle, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2008 until the Iowa caucuses, admitted on Friday that a Clinton campaign staffer had, in fact, circulated the Birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. and therefore potentially ineligible to serve in the presidency.

Doyle made the admission on Twitter, as she responded to former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer. Fleischer said that Clinton’s staff had spread the rumor. Doyle said that was a “lie” — but admitted, in the same tweet, that she had fired the “rogue” staffer who had used email to spread the Birther conspiracy theory.

Ah yes, the old “rogue staffer” trick.

Unfortunately for Team Clinton, that won’t fly, because as far back as March of 2007, Clinton pollster Mark Penn set the environment for the campaign’s focus by laying out a strategy of going after Obama because “his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited.” Penn didn’t want to go negative, but as Obama gained the electoral upper hand in primary after primary, it’s very reasonable to believe, given the stakes, that the temptation to go negative following Penn’s general direction — and to look the other way as it was happening — was overwhelming.

The second development is far more damning. As reported by the Daily Caller:

Hillary Clinton surrogate Sid Blumenthal personally pitched a reporter on the President Obama “birther” story when she was campaigning for president in 2008, a former Washington reporter said Thursday.

The Clinton campaign and the media have consistently refuted Trump’s claim Clinton started the birther movement, which Trump re-upped Friday when he said for the first publicly that he believes Obama was born in the United States. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said, drawing a slew of media fact checks almost immediately. “I finished it.”

But former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher has backed up Trump’s version of events, saying he was personally pitched the story by a Clinton surrogate in 2008.

Clinton had tweeted: “President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period.”

And Asher replied: “@HillaryClinton So why did your man #sidblumenthal spread the #obama birther rumor to me in 2008, asking us to investigate? Remember?”

Blumenthal is a former aide to Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton and their long-time friend.

“#CNN says #Hillary team in 2008 never raised the #birther issue,” he said in another tweet Thursday night. “#SidBlumenthal, long-time #HRC buddy, told me in person #Obama born in #kenya.”

Here are the two referenced tweets from Asher (originals are here and here):

JamesAsherTweetsOnSidBlumenthatBirther0916

Sidney Blumenthal is a longtime Clinton confidant who was described in a 2015 New York Observer column as “Hillary’s hatchet man.”

Blumenthal’s connection to the Clintons is so strong that Mrs. Clinton wanted to bring him on board when she became Secretary of State. When the Obama administration vetoed the idea, Mrs. Clinton used Blumenthal as an unofficial adviser, particularly in connection with Libya, and even received emails containing classified information from him — which of course begs the question of how Blumenthal gained access to information he clearly was not authorized to have in the first place. It’s virtually inconceivable that Blumenthal would free-lance on a matter so serious involving Mrs. Clinton’s presidential candidacy without her tacit or direct approval.

Note that Asher’s tweets went out very late Thursday and shortly after midnight on Friday. That’s over 13 hours before the time stamp of the AP dispatch by Colvin and Lemire. Asher’s tweets tear to shreds their already very weak claims that ”there is no evidence” that Mrs. Clinton was involved in the beginnings of the birther movement, and that Donald Trump’s contention that she was is a “false conspiracy theory.”

Memo to AP and all the other establishment press outlets claiming that Donald Trump is making a false claim about Hillary Clinton: Yes, there is evidence, and no, it’s not a false conspiracy. You just don’t have the courage to do your jobs, break from your reflexive pro-Hillary mindset, and report it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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