Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Chicago Tribune gives illegitimate credibility to Obama birthers to win the Media Putz award

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Originally published on on December 4, 2008

Chicago Tribune

There was a major party candidate for president of the United States whose eligibility was questioned. After all, he wasn’t born within the borders of the United States, and previous interpretations of the Constitution question whether this person would be a natural born citizen.

John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961.

But the current of speculation, innuendo, and otherwise crap flowed toward the major party candidate who was born in a state in the United States. The latest accusations against Obama’s supposed non-citizenry comes from Robert L. Schulz and the We The People Foundation.

However, the Chicago Tribune, the highest-circulation paper in Obama’s hometown, decided in its inherent need for publicity and/or money to run a full-page ad from the organization on December 1 and again on December 3, 2008.

The Tribune ran an article refuting every single major point made in the ad, yet “a Tribune advertising spokesman said the newspaper has standards for what ads it will accept and that the ad met those standards.”

Then what are those standards? The group running the ad has the money to pay for it?

Would the Arizona Republic run a similar ad about McCain, if he had been elected? Probably not, even with a better case to be made against McCain.

Would the Chicago Tribune have run a full-page ad demanding that Constitutional violations committed by George W. Bush be addressed through impeachment? Probably not, even though again, there is a much better case to be made.

Among its many charges is that Obama lost his U.S. citizenship at the age of 4 (we are not making this up) since his mother married an Indonesian citizen. If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen, regardless of where your parents are from, and you don’t have the power at the age of 4 to say otherwise.

Groups look for publicity to legitimize their causes. If no major media outlet gives weight or credibility to the outlandish accusations, they are denied the credibility they seek. And the Tribune’s acceptance fed into their desire to gain credibility.

“See. The Chicago Tribune, Obama’s hometown paper, thinks we have a case. There must be something to it,” could be the reaction of the organization now that the ad has run in the newspaper.

But they would be wrong: running an ad doesn’t correlate to legitimate credibility. And by accepting the ad, the credibility of the newspaper falls as a result. But the organization does realize it has won a considerable victory in the court of public opinion.

Which is why it looks like the Tribune’s judgment is based on politics. As we reported earlier, the newspaper censored an line in a obituary asking “In lieu of flowers, vote Democratic.” The newspaper said it was concerned the line would be “offensive” to readers.

Yet a half-assed, full-page ad passes the muster of the Chicago Tribune. Yes, times are hard in the newspaper industry, and the Chicago Tribune is trying to juggle changes, including a dramatic reformat on September 29 that makes finding regular elements of the paper much more difficult.

Don’t be fooled by the hometown paper aspect: the Chicago Tribune is still a Republican paper, even though its endorsement of Obama was the first ever for a Democrat.

The Chicago Tribune willingly accepted an ad against a person who legitimately was elected president of the United States of which the contents and accusations have been completely refuted, stirring up rising tensions against Obama. Yes, the Chicago Tribune got a little publicity and a good chunk of money for its partisan efforts, and it also gets the Media Putz of the week.


Written by democracysoup

December 4, 2008 at 6:00 am

One Response

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  1. […] anything personally to the dog. This logic also comes from the teabaggers who insisted Obama had lost his citizenship (and his right to be president) when the family was relocated to Indonesia when he was 4 years old. As I put it in December 2008, […]

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