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Friday, April 29, 2011
MRC Pushes False Equivalence Between Birthers, Truthers
Topic: Media Research Center

An April 26 MRC TimesWatch item by Clay Waters complains that the New York Times has been much harder on anti-Obama birthers than it has on 9/11 truthers, despite the truther stuff being "a far more pernicious anti-Republican conspiracy theory believed by many Democrats." In support of that claim, Waters only a 2006 poll in which "more than half" of Democrats -- well, 50.8% percent -- said it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that "people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

In fact, trutherism was never as "pernicious" on the left as birtherism currently is on the right. As the American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie notes:

At no point were Democrats demanding trutherism from Democratic congressional candidates, much less presidential candidates. Despite the widespread presence of truther beliefs among Democrats, friendly state lawmakers never passed truther-influenced legislation, and trutherism remained on the far fringe of liberal discourse.

By contrast (and this is an important contrast), birtherism is all but an established issue priority within the Republican coalition; GOP presidential candidates will be judged on their adherence to birther conspiracies, and the eventual nominee will have to placate birthers for success. In other words, even with the (formerly?) widespread presence of truther beliefs among Democrats, it's still hard to make a direct comparison between trutherism and birtherism.

The Prospect's Adam Serwer adds than no prominent Republican has come out as forcefully against birtherism than Bill Clinton did in 2007 against truthers.

Waters does concede that the birther claims are "discredited," but the MRC has made virtually no effort to do any meaningful pushback against them.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:41 AM EDT

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