Media uncritically reports that the Donald sent detectives to probe President Obama's birth, despite no evidence
Donald Trump’s claim that he dispatched private investigators to Hawaii to look into President Obama’s birth has been repeatedly printed as fact in the media despite zero evidence that he has done any such thing.
Here, for example, is how CNN is playing Trump’s comments, which he made Thursday on the “Today” show:
The CNN lead goes like this:
Self-proclaimed birther Donald Trump is now so doubtful of President Obama’s birthplace that he’s sent a team of his own investigators to Hawaii in hopes of getting to the bottom of the issue.
That’s according to Trump himself, who, in an interview with NBC, warned his investigators just might uncover “one of the greatest cons in the history of politics and beyond.”
This is stenographic journalism at its worst. The problem is that Trump has historically not been a credible source. He has a history of making disputed claims about his net worth as well as perennially flirting with presidential candidacies before reliably pulling out. (And, of course, he is now trumpeting the debunked conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the U.S.)
If media organizations must report Trump’s claim about sending investigators to Hawaii , they should make it very clear that he has offered no evidence. In the “Today” show interview, Trump said, “I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding.” Asked by Meredith Vieira if he meant he has people in Hawaii, he said: “Absolutely.”
The tale has been reported widely, and generally without any scrutiny. Here’s the Daily News: “Donald Trump, wannabe President: I’ve sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s citizenship.” Fox News: “Trump Sends Investigators to Hawaii.” The Australian: “Donald Trump detectives delve into President Barack Obama’s birth.” Trump’s claim was also repeated by ABC and the New York Times and others.
The irony here is that at the same time Trump is demanding evidence about Obama’s birth (which exists in ample quantities), he is making an evidence-free claim that has been mindlessly repeated in the media.
I asked Trump aide and spokesman Michael Cohen for more details on the investigators who have supposedly been dispatched to Hawaii. Said Cohen: “You have got to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you were running an investigation, would you provide that type of information?”
“The amount of questions in regard to who they are, how much he’s paying them, and what have they found so far — this isn’t something he’s going to hand out willy nilly,” Cohen said. “When he’s ready, he’ll let you know.” He then added: “I don’t think that he’s going to be commenting.”
Is it possible that Trump sent investigators to Hawaii? Sure. But until Trump offers some — any — evidence, skepticism is called for.
More Related Stories
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11