As you may have heard, Donald Trump has recently gone full “birther” — openly questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S. and demanding to see a satisfactory birth certificate — as part of his public flirtation with a possible presidential bid. And if you’ve been watching cable news, you might have noticed that the networks have been giving plenty of airtime to Trump and his debunked conspiracy theories, which had been all but relegated to the darkest corners of the net.
CNN got in on the action Friday afternoon with a little segment that lets “you decide” whether Trump’s rants are valid or not, treating a point of fact as though it were theory.
“Donald Trump says Obama wasn’t born here,” CNN anchor Deborah Feyerick says, in a teaser for the segment. “We’ll show you the evidence, and let you decide.”
A little later, Feyerick introduces the segment by crediting Trump with “stirring controversy for reigniting the debate” about whether Obama is natural born citizen of the United States. Then, after airing audio of an interview Trump did with the network, where he rehashes the birther conspiracy’s usual points, Feyerick promises that reporter Brian Todd “is breaking down fact and fiction in the birther debate.”
Todd takes over, and first assures the viewer that “CNN and other news outlets have investigated and so far have found no evidence that the President was not born in the U.S.” (Meanwhile, the chryon at the bottom of the screen reads: “Trump Spurs Birther Debate.”) Todd then proceeds to present evidence against the claims that Trump made in his interview — without ever going so far as to rule definitively, one way or another, on the “birther issue.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com