Jake Tapper Highlights Obama's 'Untruth' About Pro-Birther Bias Online, But Skips It on ABC Broadcast
Published: 4/28/2011 12:16 PM ET
After Barack Obama bitterly complained that the "birther" issue dominated the news instead of budget matters in recent weeks, ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper on Wednesday exposed an "untruth" by the President online, but skipped the same information while reporting for World News. In his Political Punch blog, Tapper noted the falsity of Obama's claim that the media was aiding and comforting conservative conspiracy theorists.
In a White House speech, Wednesday, the President asserted that the birth certificate became the "dominant news story" during the budget battle, saying that was "true on most of the news outlets that were represented here." Online, Tapper labeled this an "untruth" and "wrong."
Citing a new Pew study, the journalist noted, "The ridiculous claims about the president's birth certificate actually was the No. 4 story for the week - receiving about one tenth of the coverage devoted to stories about the economy." Yet, on World News, Tapper simply repeated the President's "untruth" without correction.
He parroted, "Instead, [Obama] cited how earlier this month, a budget debate between him and Republicans was overshadowed by possible Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's bombastic birther bunk."
On the Political Punch blog, Tapper explained:
According to Pew's PEJ: "Hardly dipping from the previous week's level of 40%, news about the economy was the top story in all media sectors studied, from cable TV to the Internet. And the particularly high level of coverage in cable (53%) and radio (52%), two politics-heavy platforms, indicated just how politically loaded the debate about federal spending was.Obviously, television has time constraints, but Tapper could have briefly corrected the record. Indeed, he found time for a cutesy close to the story, relaying, "Late this afternoon, Diane, President Obama, in a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show to air Monday, said of course he knew he was there, he remembered it."
"Much of the coverage consisted of analysis of the speech Wednesday by President Obama, one that based on listening to many press accounts renewed support for the President among much of his liberal base. Obama was also the dominant newsmaker in 13% of stories-double that of the previous week-a bigger share than any week since January 24-30, when Obama gave the State of the Union. (To be a dominant newsmaker, someone must be featured in at least 50% of a story.)
Was that information really more important than repeating inaccurate statements? Over on NPR, correspondent David Folkenflik found time to raise the issue, hitting the President for a "a flat out exaggeration."
World News anchor Diane Sawyer began the show by teasing, "President Obama shows the world his full birth certificate, saying that times are too serious for silliness." Yet, both Sawyer and Tapper skipped the obvious point: After decrying "silliness," Obama left for an Oprah appearance and fund-raisers.
A transcript of the April 27 segment, which aired at 6:36pm EDT, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And we shift now, to a strange day in American politics. President Obama pressured to produce his full birth certificate, more than two years into office. Saying it's time to stop the side shows and carnival barkers. But within minutes, Donald Trump had punched back. And Jake tapper is at the White House for us tonight. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER: Diane, some advisers cautioned the President not to address this issue, because a long protracted discussion by Republican presidential candidates about where the President was born could help make those Republicans look unserious. But ultimately, President Obama decided that this birther nonsense was just too much of a distraction. It's the lie that would not die.
DONALD TRUMP [March 30]: He doesn't have a birth certificate. Now, he may have one, but there's something on that birth- maybe religion, maybe it says he's a Muslim. I don't know.
PHILIP BERG (Attorney, Berg V. Obama): This really is the biggest hoax every contemplated against our country in 200 years.
TAPPER: President Obama came before the American people today to provide even more documentation that he was born and is thus constitutionally eligible for the position he holds.
BARACK OBAMA: I was born in Hawaii, August 4th, 1961 in Kapiolani hospital.
TAPPER: The birther smear appears to have been hatched in anonymous e-mail campaign in the spring of 2008. Then-Senator Obama responded by posting on his campaign website the certification of live birth that Hawaii issues. But for some, that was not enough. Nor were the 1961 birth announcements in Honolulu's major newspapers. The lie persisted.
ROBERT GIBBS: If I had some DNA, it wouldn't assuage those that don't believe he was born here.
TAPPER: Their numbers have been growing. 43 percent of all Americans say the President was either not born in or they're not sure where he was born, according to polls, including two-thirds of Republicans, and almost half of independents. The President said polling did not prompt today's action. Instead, he cited how earlier this month, a budget debate between him and Republicans was overshadowed by possible Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's bombastic birther bunk. So, last week, the President sent a letter to Hawaii's director of health, requesting that the state make an exception and provide him with certified copies of his original birth certificate.
BARACK OBAMA: We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.
TAPPER: In New Hampshire today, a triumphant Trump.
DONALD: TRUMP: I feel I've accomplished something really, really important. And I'm honored by it.
TAPPER: Late this afternoon, Diane, President Obama, in a taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show to air Monday, said of course he knew he was there, he remembered it. Diane?