As much as the mainstream media and Donald Trump would both like to say that the former reality TV star and real estate mogul came out of nowhere last June to begin his meteoric rise to the top of the GOP heap, that really isn’t true. The fact is, the ex-Apprentice host was actually leading Republican polls in 2011 when he flirted with running for POTUS back then. And it was all due to him publicly questioning President Obama’s American citizenship and birth.
Yep. In the spring of 2011, Donald J. Trump was all over TV and radio, giving interviews left and right about how he had investigators who were looking into Obama’s birth certificate. He kept insisting that he had been informed that POTUS had been born in Kenya and was also a Muslim. Trump eventually took a powder and decided against running after Obama released his long-form birth certificate and went to town on Trump during that year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (The assassination of Osama Bin Laden also had a little to do with it.)
However, that wasn’t the end of Trump’s birtherism. Hell no! The man continued to use his Twitter account and right-wing media appearances to hype up his belief that the President of the United States was a foreign-born usurper who was also hiding his true religion. In fact, he kept doing this until months before he announced he was running for the White House last June.
Right Wing Watch published a list of 58 conspiracy theories that Trump has espoused over the past few years. In their research, they show that Trump was still publicly pushing birtherism in the fall of 2014. Take this tweet, for example:
Attention all hackers: You are hacking everything else so please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check “place of birth”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2014
Or in May 2014, when he told Newsmax that either Obama was pretending to be Kenyan to get college aid, or he really was born there.
“Either it’s fine, or he was born in Kenya, or in my opinion there’s a very good chance he was born here, and said he was born in Kenya,” Trump said, according to the Daily Mail. “Because if you were born in Kenya, you got into colleges, and you got aid. Very simple.”
Gong back a few months, he tweeted that Obama may have had a state health director from Hawaii killed because that person knew the real truth about his birthplace:
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013
And, yet, he’s basically been given a pass on this. Not just by the mainstream media, but by Democrats themselves. Sure, we’ve occasionally heard Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton mention it in stump speeches, interviews and even the debates, but only in fleeting moments. Same goes with reporters, hosts and pundits on cable news, even as they complain about the latest conspiracy theory the Trumpster has tossed out there, whether it be Ted Cruz’s dad killing JFK, Hillary murdering Vince Foster or environmentalists creating a hoax drought in California.
Look, when wondering about Trump’s appeal and why his campaign keeps gaining momentum, it all comes down to racism. And he first let conservative white voters know he was with them when he loudly and publicly ‘otherized’ the first black president. He’s one of them. They know it. And they love him for it. For Dems to not repeatedly call him out on this, let along tie this around his neck like an albatross, is frankly insane.
As for the MSM, I understand it has been extremely tough dealing with the new reality of covering a Trump campaign. You were likely never ready for this. You figured it would all be horse-race focus and pitting liberal and conservative pundits against each other in debate segments and talking to campaign surrogates and spokespeople and just call it a day. Sure, there’d be loads of bullshit and spin, but you thought there would at least be a certain sense of normalcy and an attempt to be semi-truthful. Trump came in and turned it all upside down.
But you’ve now had a year to get used to the new normal. You can’t use the old rules anymore, the old way of covering an election. You can’t just chase the latest news cycle and forget about what came before. It can’t just be react, react, react until the latest incendiary piece of garbage comes spilling from his maw. You have to present context. You have to explain to viewers and readers why what he says is untrue. And you have to get out of the ‘both sides’ mindset. Call a spade and spade.
This man repeatedly claimed President Obama was born outside the United States, is a secret Muslim, and covered it all up to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Not only has he not been roundly mocked and ostracized for that, he’s been rewarded with the GOP nomination. His worldview has now been normalized, his dangerous buffoonery made to seem like a virtue, his embrace of ignorance treated like a leadership quality.
Stop letting him set the terms of what will or will not be covered or discussed. Make him answer for being a birther. Don’t shrink or relent when he pivots or tries turn it around on you. This is who he is. Let him own it.