On the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the host ripped into Andrew Breitbart and “The Vetting” project, claiming that Barack Obama had already been examined by the press in 2008, and that Breitbart’s website had published Birther “bullsh*t.” He then went on to prove Andrew’s point by failing to tell his audience what Breitbart’s so-called “Birther” article actually said–that it was Obama’s own literary agent who had circulated information that he had been “born in Kenya” as he tried to promote his first book.
Maher introduced his panel discussion with the following:
Obama has not been vetted–this drove me crazy this week. Apparently he just skated in 2008 just because he was running for president, and that does not draw a lot media scrutiny, especially when you have the first black one. Is there any truth to this, that Obama has not been vetted?…the “Birther” stuff, it seems to be back. But there’s a twist to it, which is that everybody who’s claiming Birther nonsense starts with, “But I’m not a ‘Birther’…Andrew Breitbart’s website prints the bullshit about the Birthers–“but I’m not a Birther.”
True to media form, Maher hurled the “Birther” accusation–and suggestions of racism–as a means to hide what Breitbart News actually said. In the same way, the mainstream media kept information about then-Sen. Barack Obama hidden from view during the 2008 election, treating criticism of Obama as evidence of racism, following the Obama campaign’s insistence that even accurate reports about his past could be lumped together with “smears.”
Neither Maher’s guests nor his audience seemed to know how to respond to the topic, as he had given them no facts to discuss, and in fact pointed them towards false conclusions that pre-empted debate or even humor.
At least, with Maher, viewers know what they are getting–in-kind contributions to the Obama re-election effort that complement the $1 million that Maher has donated to Obama’s Super PAC. When the mainstream media does the same–casting aspersions on Obama’s critics without reporting the substance of their criticism–it is less honest, if somewhat more decorous.