I read this article by Chris Benson posted on Huffington Post this morning. I found it to be compelling because in addition examining the racist undertones of the Birther Movement, Benson also addresses media responsibility in clarifying and contextualizing what the so called movement is really all about.
What has become clear during Donald Trump’s media-blitz-of-a-non-campaign-campaign is that too many mainstream journalists are missing the story. The story and the opportunity. The story about what the “birther” issue really is all about, and the opportunity to live up to media responsibility in helping people make enlightened decisions about the answer that increasingly is becoming apparent: the “birther” issue is about race.
Just connect up the dots. Trump resurrects an issue we all thought had been put to rest. The media — particularly television news and feature programs — provide a national platform for the discourse. The Arizona legislature takes its immigrant profiling campaign national, passing a bill that in effect set up a presidential checkpoint — requiring national candidates to (your papers, please) prove U.S. citizenship. And then there’s that photoshopped Barack Obama nuzzled in a family of Chimps, circulated by Orange County Republican Marilyn Davenport, reportedly with her personal note: “Now you know why no birth certificate.”
Davenport says, in effect, hey, can’t you take a joke? But what do you have to get in order to get that joke? Republican Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the Arizona bill. But what about the message of legitimacy that is sent to the public when elected officials put their stamp of approval on such regressive policies? And, with respect to that media platform for Trump, sure, questions are being raised by journalists. But what about the thrust of those questions?
“Is Trump really running for president?” “Will his candidacy, coupled with a sharp rise in the polls, hurt Republicans?” “Is he really serious about this ‘birther’ issue?” “Is he merely promoting his television show Celebrity Apprentice?”
Excuse me, but, what? Practically every arrow in the quiver and still missing the target. So, here’s one for the longbow: “What are the racial implications of the birther issue?”
You can read the full article here.