Monday, September 10, 2012

Birther Control

By Bill Maher

Chris Matthews dressed down RNC Chair Reince Priebus last week for Romney's playing the race card with the birther joke, and the party doing it with the false welfare ads, constantly bringing up that he's a "European-style socialist," etc. At first, Priebus didn't have much of a response at all, because he knows it's true. By the end, he just seemed contemptuous of Matthews, but had no legitimate defense.

But Tom Brokaw chimed in that he disagreed with Chris, and thought it was just an "awkward joke," adding that Republican leaders should have corrected the record when people started calling Obama a Muslim and a socialist, but "both sides" do it. Bullshit. Half of Democrats don't believe Romney was born in a foreign country. On another planet, maybe, but not a foreign country. That was the whole point of Romney's "joke," wasn't it? "Nobody's ever asked to see my birth certificate" -- yeah, because you're a white guy, you dipshit, and you're not the victim of that kind of racism. When people say he can't empathize with ordinary people, that's part of what they mean.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has an amazing essay in this month's Atlantic called, "Fear of a Black President." He writes, "Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye." True dat.

The first time I ever saw Obama’s citizenship questioned was in a chain email well before the 2008 election. I thought, "Wow, this is obviously racist," and dismissed it as a fringe rumor that would end with white supremacists. How did it grow to the point where half of Republican primary voters believed it? It wasn’t just the silence of Republican leaders, it was the failure of people like Tom Brokaw to just dismiss it as racism from the beginning. People like him are always championing "balance" over objectivity. They have to bring everything back to a discussion about how "both sides" are guilty, instead of doing his job as a referee. If every single journalist just simply labeled birtherism what it obviously is -- racism -- the cancer wouldn't have infected half the party. Maybe 25% or so, but most would be like, "Okay, this isn't socially respectable."

Every journalist knows it comes from a racist place, so why can't they all be as no-bullshit about it as Chris Matthews?

43 comments:

logic_pol said...

I don't think Birtherism=racism. I think a lot of people believe that Hawaii really isn't part of the US.

Patricia said...

I totally agree with this article! I was furious with that COWARD, that day!

545+ warrants said...

European style socialist

Anonymous said...

Great blog Bill and oh so true. The scary thing is that according to the latest PEW poll in both Ohio and NC, 15% of those same birthers think Mitt Romney was responsible for getting Osama bin Laden. I think they all (including Rancid Penus) live under a rock somewhere.

sean said...

I learned something here. According to Coates definition, I am racist towards conservatives. I can live with that. My level of skepticism towards conservative America certainly rivals their batshit skepticism of Obama, and even goes as far as a generalized fear. I suppose the difference is, my skepticism is based on those fact and arithmetic things.

Ray said...

It's true. Things like right, wrong, good and bad have been morphed into just differences of opinion in the interest of balance. I notice that isn't bringing prosperity to 50% of the planet.

Anonymous said...

Bill Maher, you've become such a Chris Matthews-like dick!!

telemann said...

If you watch the original video, Mika Brzezinski was mortified at Chris Matthews and even rolls her eyes. She and Joe's line of questioning to mock Chris Matthews was far worse, I thought. I'm glad you wrote about this. And why does the RNC chairman seem to be drunk when he speaks? It's like Foster Brooks ;)

Kstreet67 said...

How is it I never knew you had a blog, Bill? That's okay because now that I've discovered it, I've bookmarked it in my "News" section and will be a regular commenter. By the way, I wholeheartedly agree that Brokaw - the centrist(?) has let us know his political persuasion. One thing, watch out for those GOP folks who say: "Both sides are guilty of..." It's NOT true. We don't have a batshit crazy wing of the Democratic Party. Period!

Anonymous said...

I bet your parents are real proud of you. How many people have a son that is such a horse's ass? You take arrogance and stupidity to new highs. You do cause people to get a good laugh, not because you're funny but you are such a jerk..

Anishval said...

Bill, if more Americans used half as much as logic as you did, we would not be in the shithole that we are in!!! We tend to forget that we are a country full of morons who went rushing to war with Iraq because baby Bush has daddy issues. The problems with trying to talk to 'birther' is that they are too stupid to listen!!!

Admin said...

I try to address the question Bill raises here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/blakezeff/how-it-became-safe-to-attack-barack-obama-708z.
All constructive feedback welcome. Thanks.
-Blake Zeff

JSD said...

Being reporter is about staying in the center. You are supposed to report what is going on so that people can make an informed decision. Reporters are not supposed to referee. Chris Matthews is a pundit not a reporter. A pundit is someont that offers an opinion and tries to convince you they are right. The fact that people don't know the difference is pathetic and a big part of the spin coming from BOTH sides. I will agree that the birther issue is a joke but, does that mean that no one can ever make a joke about it? As a failed comedian, a failed actor, and a man whos talk show was on the verge of being cancled when he made a comment that threw him into the national spotlight, Bill Maher should understand that sometimes jokes fall flat. Not everyone that is against Obama is racist. Some think he is too inexperienced, too out of touch with middle America and more that a little dishonest about his personal story. Its real easy to lump everything under a tag of racist and ignore everything someone is saying. If you are a pundit that is exactly what you do, if you're a reporter you take everything said and give it to the people so that they can make an honest, informed decision.

Tinfaneil said...

logic_pol said...
"I don't think Birtherism=racism. I think a lot of people believe that Hawaii really isn't part of the US."

That's not really what is being talked about here. They are actually trying to claim Obama was born in Kenya despite his birth certificate shows he was born in Honolulu Hawaii. Some how his Hawaiian birth is just a cover up.

Tim Weber said...

To JSD:

Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. May seem a minor, even trivial issue. But as a guy who ran three half-marathons I could tell you my times for each, to the minute.

Lying about one's time in a marathon is a very disturbing revelation about one's character. If he can lie about that, what else has he been lying about.

So, you attack Obama saying he's been "more that a little dishonest about his personal story" (which you provide no examples for), but you give Paul Ryan a free pass on his character flaws, which are evident to all.

I guess it's just about being "balanced", eh?

bowwowboy said...

To JSD:
The only “joke” (albeit unintentional) I see here is your little dispatch from what Bill Clinton called “an alternate universe.” As any honest pro will tell you, “being a reporter” is not about “staying in the center.” Such a center is illusory, part of what I call the-reporter-as-eye-of-the-huricane myth, suggesting as it does some idealized still point at the heart of a vortex of events and ideas. The standard “inverted-pyramid” model of who-what-where-when-why-how taught in journalism school reinforces this myth, turning reporting into a mechanical process where one applies a template and---voila!---there’s your story.

Far from being neutral observers, reporters often bring their own unspoken agendas to the job. Even on the just-the-facts-Ma’amm level, selecting what is “relevant” information is not a value-free exercise. As G. Zachary Pascal notes:

Actually, journalists are beholden to various points of view, and their commitment to balance is a convenient way of not talking about the rat’s nest of commitments, concerns, biases and passions that animate the life of every good journalist and most of the bad ones.

Commercial pressures also force journalists to choose sides, to root for one outcome over another, to seek out some sources and never even speak to others. Professional values, meanwhile, force journalists to routinely rule out certain points of view, notably those deemed “irresponsible” or “out of the mainstream.” In a world of complexity, journalists cannot square the circle; they cannot smooth the rough edges of reality.


In politics, this often comes down to competing versions of realty. Unfortunately, some of those versions are grounded in what are normally called “facts,” as opposed to the entertaining fictions produced daily by the Republican National Network (aka Fixed Noise).
In short, if “you are supposed to report what is going on,” surely part of a reporter’s function in that process is therefore to help readers distinguish what’s true from what’s false.

Once you’ve reported the most basic data (say, dates of the Republican convention in Tampa, etc.), placing a collection of facts in some interpretive framework becomes nearly inevitable. An honest journalist will tell you when he or she is “editorializing”---offering an opinion or advocating a cause, hopefully buttressed by logic and---yes----facts. Most MSNBC watchers understand that Chris and his colleagues are, to some extent, partisans operating from a left-of-center perspective (hence the Network’s slogan of “Lean Forward”), whereas “Fair and Balanced” Fox viewers seem to believe that Rupert’s propaganda ministers are just giving them the straight dope. It’s dope, all right.

That Bill Maher’s career basically ended when he was fired by ABC in 2002 may come as a surprise to many, including Bill Maher. So much for the best-selling books, the sold-out comedy gigs, and a show on HBO now in its tenth season. Interesting conception of “failure” there.

As for your allegation that Obama (of whom I'm no great fan) is “too inexperienced, too out of touch with middle America and more that a little dishonest about his personal story”---I think most voters will find his “personal story” more credible (and more sympathetic) than his opponent’s.

The usual take on the Mormbot is that he Etch-a-Sketches himself into a New, Improved Version of whatever he was last week, but also that he is not only “out of touch with the middle class” but with most residents of Planet Earth.. Deeply moving stories about all those tuna-and-pasta dinners in a little basement apartment fail to mention that Willard and Anne were living on stock options---hardly a narrative Joe Lunchbucket and the Missus can relate to. Romney’s experience as a vulture capitalist hardly qualifies him to run a country (unless it’s into bankruptcy) and his record as Massachusetts governor suggests a, how to say, “ambivalent” legacy. (For job creation, he did worse than either his predecessor or successor.)But that's the GOP's Best Man.

justthefacts said...

Amen, Mr. Maher. I saw that exchange as it aired and was completely disappointed in Brokaw's response. He showed his true colors that morning. Good for you for speaking truth to so-called power.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bill.
And the same applies to global warming, btw. Sometimes "balance" is bias.

Anonymous said...

Riiiiigght. Now go watch Bill Maher on Youtube, horrified by the popularity of baby names like Muhammad, as if anyone with that name should be regarded with suspicion.

Isn't that exactly how the the Tea Party cast aspersions over the Hussein in Obama's name?

What a massive hypocrite Maher is.

Anonymous said...

I am not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude.

ediva75 said...

I too also posted on the EPIC beef with Matthews and that diseased fungus name Preibus. The hypocrisy of rude, arrogant, always overtalking folks and shouting down POVs that aren't like his Joe Scarborough trying to quiet down what Matthews made me LMBAO! I gave a heartfelt middle finger to the others on Morning Joe (including esteemed journalist Brokaw) on their punk asses backing away as Matthews ripped a new on in Preibus and TOLD THE DAMN TRUTH!!

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