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Friday, January 8, 2016
MRC Rails At Cruz Birtherism, Was Blase on Obama Birtherism
Topic: Media Research Center

Ted Cruz's possible presidential eligibility issues are back in the news again -- promoted by Donald Trump, not the "liberal media." But the "liberal media" is reporting on what Trump said, so the Media Research Center is mad.

Scott Whitlock complained in a Jan. 7 NewsBusters post: "In 2011 and 2012, the journalists at Good Morning America railed against birther claims relating to Barack Obama, assailing the conspiracy theory as 'bizarre' and 'nonsense.' Yet, the same program lacked outrage on Thursday as Donald Trump promotes a form of birtherism against Ted Cruz." Whitlock went on to grumble: "The whole tone of the segment lacked judgment of the legitimacy of birtherism."

We would remind Whitlock that his employer helped cause this situation by not consistently and forcefully denouncing Obama birtherism when it was promoted by his fellow conservatives. As we've documented, the MRC mixed tepid denouncements of Obama birtherism with tepid endorsements of it, those denouncements coming only when 1) other conservatives were threatened with being tarred as birthers, and 2) when it could find an excuse to blame the media for it.

But far be it from the MRC to let hypocrisy to get in the way of a good anti-media attack. The same day, a post by Kyle Drennen portrayed said reporting on what Trump said as "promoting,"  then huffed: "While both networks were happy to portray false claims about Cruz’s citizenship as a problem for his presidential campaign, NBC and CBS routinely condemned anyone who even mentioned similar untrue birther attacks on Barack Obama."

Like Whitlock, Drennen needs to review his employer's history on birtherism. If conservatives like Brent Bozell and the MRC had acted more forcefully in saying that birther attacks on Obama were "untrue" from the get-go, the issue wouldn't have festered and then come back to haunt Cruz.

Both Whitlock and Drennen are silent on right-wingers who have embraced Trump going birther on Cruz, including close personal MRC friends Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. But then, as we've seen, being buddies means that the MRC will never issue any meaningful criticism of Limbaugh or Coulter, no matter how offensive their public statements become.

The MRC had an opportunity to act like responsible adults on the birther issue and set the tone that such fringe attacks had no place in the Republican Party, but it didn't -- presmably because it liked that the issue was hanging over Obama's head, just as discredited conspiracy theories like TravelGate and Vince Foster's purported murder hung over President Clinton.

What goes around comes around. The MRC ought to know that.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:18 PM EST

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