Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Persistent Questions About Obama’s Birthplace and Plummeting Newspaper Sales: Two Sides of the Same Coin

WND article on Obama birth certificate questions

There are two stories in today’s news that are separately covered yet closely related. One is the dispute about Barack Obama’s birthplace. The other is the plummeting profits of print news media.

There are supermarket tabloids that regularly run stories that purport to prove that John Kennedy is alive and well and yachting from Hyannisport to Corsica. There are also stories that allege that an army of Hitler clones are employed as police officers in a remote village in the Brazilian jungle. Sometimes I suspend my disbelief to better enjoy this alternative universe.

The Obama birth certificate story seems at first glance to be the sort of tabloid trash that I read to but a nice edge on my beer buzz. It seems simply preposterous that a powerful political machine such as the Democratic Party would not vet its candidates for high office. Prior to this election, I had assumed that a detailed investigation and dossier would accompany every serious applicant, including everything from tax returns to a decibel reading from every sneeze.

It further seemed logical that the news media would pump up their ratings with any bit of sensation to be extracted from the day’s events. A pattern emerged in Obama news coverage that disabused me of my prior assumptions about the press as a yapping watchdog. The fawning coverage of Barack Obama was a bit more jazzy than North Korea’s English language Pyongyang Times. A mixture of endearing and visionary characteristics emerged in portrayals of Obama that contrasted with the godlike portrayal of the Kim dynasty in North Korea. But both projected personas were tightly managed.

Questions about Obama’s birthplace should have been doggedly pursued first by the Democratic Party and then by the news media. In a perfect world, Obama would have laid all questions to rest years ago . Reporters from across the political spectrum would have seen and examined a copy of Obama’s birth certificate. The interest of the public in the constitutional qualifications of every candidate for office would have been considered sacrosanct and unassailable. Instead, the sort of paper chase that normally preceeds any application for a driver’s license or passport was inexplicably dispensed with. Requests for proof that should have been simple to comply with were scoffed at and sidestepped in a manner that bespoke contempt for the electorate. During the days leading up to Obama’s innauguration, only the silly tabloids by the cash register in supermarkets should be asking questions about the President elect’s national (or planetary) origins. Unfortunately, instead of supermarket shoppers suspending disbelief as they dig into news of extraterrestrials controlling the stock market, it is the mainstream media that is suspending disbelief and abdicating their role as eyes and ears of the public.

The tone and depth as well as the pattern of unanswered questions in the mainstream media coverage could only be defined as advocacy journalism. There is a place for advocacy journalism. People go to church to be strengthened in their chosen faith. A person who is committed to Islam does not pick up the Book of Mormon for inspiration. A Jew does not spend his sabbath studying the Christian scriptures. Politics has some aspects of religious belief. People like to read big players from their team making a case for their chosen party. Some might read what the “other side ” has to say. Almost everyone defines a certain area which is defined as “straight news”. Stock market quotes, armed conflicts abroad and the shapeup of public opinion are areas that are considered “straight facts”.

Writers and editors with sophistication and an agenda can choose a focus and select facts to accentuate. It is actually possible to take a newspaper that purports to be “straight news and turn it into a showpiece of stealth advocacy. The public is becoming increasingly sophisticated about this practice, at a time when technology offers a wide array of alternative news sources.

CNBC reports a story of slumping newspaper profits that is continuing unabated in this quarter. It seems to be a confluence of competition from the internet and deep public cynicism about bias in the media, from fawning coverage of the Obama campaign to support of the so called “fairness doctrine” CNBC reports as follows.

“U.S. newspaper advertising revenue collapsed
by nearly $2 billion, or 18 percent, in the third quarter, according to
the Newspaper Association of America, an industry group. Even online ad

revenue made a small U-turn for the second quarter in a row.

year-on-year quarterly percentage decline is the worst since since the
NAA has been keeping such records and represents an increasingly rapid
deceleration that began in the third quarter of 2006, when total ad
spending dropped 1.5 percent.”

This is already resulting in a loss of jobs. According to Breitbart.com,Cox Newspapers announced plans to shut its Washing

ton, D.C., office in April. The Washington bureau was established in 1974—the same year that Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace. The bureau has provided national and international news to 17 Cox newspapers around the country. The closure will affect about two dozen newspaper staff members, most of whom will be offered severance packages.

Washington bureau chief Andy Alexander said the moves come after Cox announced earlier this year that it would seek to sell its newspapers in Texas, North Carolina and Colorado.

He said selling those papers created less need for the Washington office, which supplements work done by regional reporters for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Dayton Daily News.

Five foreign bureaus also will be closed. “

Newspapers are cheap entertainment subsidized by advertisers. Judicious use of their coupons and sales advertisements can more than pay back the cost of their purchase. They should be recession proof. They could even promote themselves as money savers in tough times rather than an added household expense. Instead, they are in a circulation nosedive. Competition from the internet explains only so much. Even with the saturation of computers in the American home, there are certain locations in which a laptop is not feasible, such as the subway or the bathroom. There is a feel to print on paper that will give it an enduring edge over the backlit screen for years to come.

The crisis in the news industry is different in crucial ways from the auto industry’s difficulties. It is an attitude problem that hamstrings the newspapers as they helplessly wring their hands over plummeting sales. They can and should be offering a smorgasbord of ideas and opinions. Instead, they are dishing out t condescending pablum of liberal opinion that resembles a 19th century catechism in its doctrinaire narrow focus.

People can go over to talk radio or the Internet and see what they are missing. And that is precisely what they are doing. It is one thing to feel concern for auto workers who are locked into an industry that needs to streamline and upgrade. It is another matter entirely when the nerve centre of the body politic is ailing in critical and fundamental ways. East Germans voted against communism with their feet and got the Berlin Wall. Americans are voting with their wallets and get the “Fairness Doctrine”. And there is nothing fair about it.


The video with this posting raises questions about Obama’s birth place. At least as noteworthy are the threats to the life of the person making the video. When deception is backed up with threats of violence, then it is a serious threat to the future of Democracy as we know it.

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