Fox’s Jenna Lee Smacks Down Trump Spox Attempts To Blame Birtherism On Hillary Clinton

The approach taken on multiple shows today has been to say that yeah, Trump shouldn’t be bringing this up again, but hey, Clinton’s people did it first. How do they justify this? Three specific items, all of which are easily laughed through once you actually look at them.

1. A vile email from Mark Penn from early in the 2008 campaign, wherein he discussed the notion of Obama being foreign but said that this shouldn’t be used as a direct attack. Instead, Penn went with things like the 3am phone call commercial.

2. An interview with Clinton after the idea went public, wherein she said she had no reason to believe that Obama was Muslim but, in the right wing view, wasn’t emphatic enough that she totally, utterly and overwhelmingly repudiated the notion.

3. A tweet today from left winger James Asher saying that Sid Blumenthal told him that he thought Obama was born in Kenya.

One would think that Fox News had just found the key to the BIG STORY. This is incredible stuff, isn’t it? Half-truths and tweets!

So let’s remember the actual facts. The Birther story was born from two different right wing blogs in March 2008. They were willfully being ignorant about a professor’s blog post at that time which posited a hypothetical about someone saying that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US. (I believe the professor did this in response to people discussing McCain’s eligibility, noting that it was a silly topic to spend any time on.) So it was a right wing invention, period. About a month later, when it became clear that Obama was on his way to take the nomination, a few Clinton supporters, in Texas I believe, decided they were not going to support the winning candidate and declared their group to be called “PUMA”, or “Party Unity My Ass”. They then cited the right wing blog posts about Obama’s possible non-Hawaiian birth, in much the same way that many Sanders supporters this year foolishly cited long-debunked right wing conspiracy theories about Clinton. These people had no credibility, and as seen in that interview, Clinton was frankly surprised to be asked about something as ridiculous as whether Obama was a Muslim or wasn’t an American. Obama went on to win the nomination and two terms as President. In 2011, Donald Trump decided to really fan the flames of the birther idea again, and then crowed when Obama got the state of Hawaii to break its own legal rules to release the long form version of his birth certificate – and even then, the birthers and Trump weren’t satisfied.

We must never forget that Donald Trump also told us that he had investigators in Hawaii “and they can’t believe what they’re finding.” Nobody has ever taken Trump to task on that – I’d love to see someone ask this at one of the debates – “Mr. Trump, what did your investigators find that was so unbelievable in Hawaii?” Nobody calls him on these statements and it’s frankly irritating to watch him continue to get away with it.

But to answer the Fox News and right wing conspiracy memes of the day, let’s dispense with Fox News’ latest attempt to smear Hillary Clinton and her people.

1. Mark Penn made several offensive comments and emails while he was a chief strategist for the 2008 campaign. He was and is a bare knuckles brawler in campaigns. He eventually alienated enough of the staff from his positions that he was removed from his senior position although not from the campaign itself – he was essentially demoted. Not fired, but demoted in a meaningful way. And his nastier ideas about campaigning were never followed. Meaning that Clinton had no interest in going into the gutter – the 3am phone call commercial was about as far as she was willing to go, and to me, that was already too far, given that right wingers have tried to eat out on it for the past 8 years. So Penn wrote a memo that nobody used for strategy, among other fairly nasty writings, and wound up demoted. Not seeing how this means that Hillary Clinton started the Birther movement.

2. It’s funny that the right wingers want to see Hillary Clinton issue a blanket statement of condemnation in an interview, when she was clearly surprised and frankly shocked to be asked about ridiculous assertions. The tone of her answer is clear: “Are you seriously asking me about something like that rather than a real issue? REALLY?” Could she have been more forceful in her denial of the question’s merits? Sure, but she clearly thought she already HAD been from her tone. She wasn’t as appropriately dismissive as she was when Ed Henry tried to gotcha her about her “wiping the server”, but her tone is pretty clear on this. So if the right wing wants to say that she didn’t deny this strongly enough, we could get into all kinds of discussions about GOP candidates and presidents if they really want to go there. This is an obviously silly ruse, and really just meant as a way to smear Clinton as untrustworthy again.

3. James Asher, who is not a friend of the Clintons, says that Sid Blumenthal told him he thought Obama was born in Kenya. Great. Are we supposed to infer that this means that Blumenthal then told Hillary to go to Texas and set off a couple of wingnuts on a bizarre campaign while they refused to support the Democrat nominee? Or maybe we’re supposed to think that the Clintons secretly thought this. Either way, the assertion makes no sense. Maybe Blumenthal did say this to Asher. So what? Even if Blumenthal believed that kind of nonsense, it was NEVER a part of the campaign and NEVER something that Hillary Clinton or any other official in her campaign would litigate in the press.

So once again, we end up with Fox News and the right wing frantically trying to project their own issues onto their opponents. One would think they would take a minute and just look in the mirror.

And just so we’re very clear on this, as Brit Hume tried to dismiss this today. Birtherism IS racism. It’s not a quantifiable thing where you separate out the birthers from the racists. Birtherism was born from the racist sentiment that Barack Obama should not be President, based specifically on his being an “other” and maybe even an African rather than an African-American. The purpose of the implication was always to provide comfort to racists who hated the notion of a black man becoming President since, hey, he’s not really an American anyway. The fact that Brit Hume would even TRY this line of thinking is extremely telling.

Fox News may well be trying to distance Trump from the Birther movement he so lovingly embraced, but they’re not doing so out of any actual concern for the reality of what happened. They really do just want to blame its existence on Hillary Clinton.

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Fox’s Jenna Lee Smacks Down Trump Spox Attempts To Blame Birtherism On Hillary Clinton
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