On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had to address the mind-numbing birther issue, because Franklin Graham had spit some birther nonsense on ABC's This Week program the day before. Said Carney, "I would just say I think it’s unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges. And I’ll leave it at that."
But you know who couldn't leave it at that? CNN's terminally exhausting White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who decided that he would bring up the issue again at Tuesday's White House Press Briefing. What makes Henry's pursuit of this matter so demented, however, is that Monday night, his own network broadcast Anderson Cooper's "definitive investigation" of the birther myth, in which the former director of the Hawaii Department of Health Dr. Chiyome Fukino stated unequivocally that Obama was "absolutely born here in the state of Hawaii." And then Cooper spent the rest of his time beating up on Donald Trump for being an idiot about it.
At the briefing, Ed Henry asked Carney about the matter in such a way that you couldn't really get a feel for whether he found his own network's "definitive" reporting to be all that credible. He sure went out of his way to stick up for Donald Trump (because he is just so shiny!):
HENRY: Jay, my colleague, Gary Tuchman, just went to Hawaii and established again that there’s evidence suggesting that the President, in fact, was born in the United States. But as you know, Donald Trump persists, other critics, and last night Trump was on CNN saying that he’s been told the birth certificate is missing, that it’s either not there or has been taking out -- taken out somehow, and this is a problem for the President. When the White House hears this continued claim, what does it say?
CARNEY: Well, Ed, I would say that we have a lot of problems confronting us. I think CNN recently did a highly credible piece on an established fact, which is that the President was born in the United States of America, and this was a settled issue. It is unfortunate that for whatever reason that instead of focusing on our economy, on our continued joblessness in this country, on the need to reduce our deficits and get our fiscal house in order, on the need for a clean energy -- for an energy policy and for investments in clean energy technology, on the need for an education reform strategy that positions our children for the 21st century, on the challenges that face us internationally, that this is the subject of -- that gets any kind of serious attention. I’ll leave it at that.
HENRY: Last question on that, though. As part of that CNN story you mentioned we noted that there is a certificate of live birth, which is considered in the state of Hawaii settled that he was born in the United States, period. However, Trump and others keep saying that that’s not the actual birth certificate, and as you know, Hawaii Department of Health says that you can request a birth certificate; you put in a Freedom of Information request, and within a few weeks you’ll get a copy out of the vault. Why doesn’t the President do that? Is it because you believe it’s a distraction from these other issues? Is it because he just thinks they’ll keep moving the goal post? Why?
CARNEY: Well, what do you think, Ed?
This is where Carney shows his inexperience. A more seasoned White House Press Secretary would never have posed this question to Ed Henry.
HENRY: You’re the President’s press secretary.
CARNEY: Do you think they might keep moving the goal post?
HENRY: You’re the President’s press secretary. I’m asking you what you think.
Keep in mind that yesterday, Carney called the birther issue "preposterous." Someone really dropped the ball on letting Ed Henry know what that word means, since it squarely defines what Carney "thinks" about the matter. Charitably, Carney filled in the blanks.
CARNEY: It is a distraction, obviously. This is a settled issue. The birth certificate that the campaign put up online has been available for everyone to see around the globe. It’s the same birth certificate you get to get a driver’s license. Anybody who was born in Hawaii who asks for their birth certificate gets the same thing that the campaign and the White House has provided to the press.
The really sad thing is that earlier today, Alex Pareene, noting that CNN was traditionally the network "so addicted to the appearance of 'balance' that it once presented a point-counterpoint on the Confederacy," took stock of its work on Donald Trump's birther claims and declared: "I am still proud of CNN, for finally finding some backbone and having the bravery to state that Donald Trump is a buffoon, without also noting, for balance, that some people think Donald Trump is not a buffoon." I imagine Pareene is now pretty disappointed!
CNN will continue its "definitive investigation" of the birther issue tonight. Ed Henry should maybe tune in!
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to email@example.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]