(AP/Andrew Harnik)

Reminder: The right-wing media vetted Barack Obama, and it was an absolute disgrace

Conservatives have convinced themselves Ben Carson is being persecuted by the left. Obama had it so much worse


Eric Boehlert
November 13, 2015 1:45PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on Media Matters.

As President Obama approaches his final year in office, there's mounting frustration among Republicans and members of the conservative media that the elusive "truth" still hasn't been told about Obama, and that the mainstream media continues to hide scandalous revelations from public view.

Using the allegation as a shield to protect himself from claims he may have fabricated parts of his own biography, Ben Carson took the lead last week when he admonished the press for allegedly giving Obama a pass. "This was the same media that time and again declared it off-limits to dig into then-candidate Barack Obama's background," claimed Carson in a recent fundraising pitch.

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That charge was excitedly echoed by the right-wing media, which have been begging the press to out Obama for the fraud they think he is. ("The media elite don't vet their own, just the enemy.")

Again, Obama's entering his eighth year in office, but somehow he hasn't been vetted? Somehow all kinds of embarrassing and scandalous parts of his background remain under wraps? It's hard to believe. And as Media Matters detailed, not many journalists are buying the claim that Carson's being held to a unique standard.

"The suggestion that others have not gone through this [scrutiny] ignores history," noted Washington Postreporter Ed O'Keefe.

The not-vetted complaint works side-by-side with the revived 'liberal media bias' allegation that's been at the center of the Republican campaign season in recent weeks. Together, the two claims represent the Mantle and Maris of conservative whining. The conspiratorial bookends are often used to try to explain away Obama's two electoral landslide victories. Conservatives seem to think that if only the truth were revealed, "Then the scales will fall from the voters' eyes and they'll boot him from the office he never deserved to occupy in the first place,"wrote Paul Waldman at American Prospect.

The vetting claim reflects life inside the Fox News-generated bubble. It reflects a conservative movement that's increasingly allergic to bouts of reality and common sense. It goes to a core belief that they've been right all along about Obama and his dastardly ways, it's just that the press won't inform the public.

But here's the thing: conservative commentators, and especially conservative bloggers, are ignoring the fact that Obama was vetted -- by them. For more than two presidential election cycles.

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And it was priceless.

Obama's a Muslim. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama forged his birth certificate. Obama is the son of Malcolm X. Obama's hiding his gay past.

All of those claims, and much more, were forwarded by right-wing media outlets (including Fox News) that have been thrashing around in cesspools over the years, all in the name of vetting the elusive Obama. (The late blogger and satirist Al Weisel, known as Jon Swift, masterfully detailed the attempted vetting.)

Some of the lowlights from conservative bloggers' 2008 crusade that I previously highlighted when they started complaining in 2012 that the president hadn't been properly investigated:

  • Obama didn't actually write his memoir, Dreams of My Father. It was ghostwritten by communist sympathizer Bill Ayers.
  • Obama wasn't born in the United States. Probably the most infamous of the right-wing media's vetting adventures, the claim that Obama couldn't be president because he was foreign-born (and forged his birth certificate) first took root in conservative media during the 2008 campaign.
  • Obama had an underage gay affair with a pedophile.
  • Obama had an affair with a Chicago fundraiser who was then exiled to a Caribbean island.
  • Obama had cocaine-fueled gay sex with an ex-convict.
  • Late in the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama gave a shocking, race-baiting interview with something called the African Press International. (She did not.)

Then in 2012, the same frantic, clueless sleuths vowed to redouble their efforts. Under the headline, "Re-Vetting Wars: Obama's Girlfriends Speak," American Thinker editor Thomas Lifson noted "One of the foremost concerns of the Obama re-election effort is the promised re-vetting of Obama, playing off the widespread perception that the media utterly failed to investigate the reality beneath the highly manufactured identity peddled in 2008."

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At Breitbart.com, founder Andrew Breitbart vowed to pull back the dark curtain on Obama's troubling past; to do what the supposed lapdog press refused to do in 2008.

Breitbart's first supposed smoking gun centered around the revelation that in 1998, then-state senator Obama attended a Chicago play about activist Saul Alinsky and then took part in a panel discussion afterwards.

Shocking stuff, indeed.

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Meanwhile, despite the fact that the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate in 2011 to debunk all the birther nonsense, right-wing columnist Jerome Corsi delved deeper down the black hole, publishing a series of reports trying to prove Obama's birth certificate was a forgery. He also promoted the claim that Obama "hid" his gay life and that, of course, he's secretly a Muslim.

In 2012, conservative filmmaker Joel Gilbert unveiled his documentary film, Dreams From My Real Father, which claimed Obama is the son of communist writer Frank Marshall Davis. The loopy DVD movie was touted by Fox News' Monica Crowley, among others.

So c'mon, conservative commentators, don't sell yourselves short. You did vet Obama, and it was genius. I can't wait to see what their vetting of Hillary Clinton looks like.

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Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

MORE FROM Eric Boehlert

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Andrew Breitbart Barack Obama Ben Carson Fox News Media Matters

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