Brian Stelter's excuse for bringing on Steve Malzberg of
Birther Newsmax TV was because he wanted to explore the birther strain within conservative media.
To which I must ask the question: "Why?" When did the media turn into armchair psychologists exploring the paranoia and ignorance rampant in conservative media, after all? Why not just bring on John Nolte from Breitbart, or perhaps Matt Drudge himself?
But no, we were treated to Steve Malzberg instead, who trotted out all the right-wing media lies about President Obama to bolster Donald Trump's birther moment earlier this week.
"The president can be perceived and has been perceived by many as being an Islamist sympathizer by his actions," averred Malzberg. "Most of his Middle East policies favor the Muslim Brotherhood."
Actually, they don't, but it makes for a nice talking point, doesn't it? If you're not persecuting them and calling them evil, you must be an Islamist sympathizer.
But wait, there's more. "He was very upset when the Muslim Brotherhood got kicked out of Egypt," said Malzberg.
I must have missed that whole thing, but I do remember him being upset that a democratically elected Muslim president was given a death sentence by that same country. Is that what he's referring to?
Stelter, to his credit, pointed out that whether President Obama sympathizes with Muslims is a debatable point, but it doesn't have anything to do with his citizenship or religion. Malzberg had an answer for that, too.
"He says he's a Christian. That's good enough for me. He said -- and he's a citizen. Until somebody shows he's not, that's good enough for me. But when your policies both abroad and at home -- Look, he used a prayer breakfast in February to bring up the Crusades right after Muslim terror attacks, as if to say, hey, these Muslim terror attacks aren't so bad. Look what the evil Christians did."
Well? They did do it. And it would appear that some Christians would like for that to happen again.
The audience then got to hear the same old tired tropes about transcripts and how this all began with Hillary Clinton. (It didn't.)
Malzberg wasn't going to give an inch. When Stelter asked if it was media's responsibility to correct falsehoods about the President, Malzberg answered, "Now, again, I don't think he's a Muslim. And I believe he's a citizen."
He continued, "But there's enough room where people would have their doubts, as evidenced by your own poll."
There's so much wrong with this. Right wing media makes up a lie. Right wing media pushes the lie as far as they can. Then right wing media cites the number of people who believe the lie as evidence that the lie "might" be true.
Then followed the usual false equivalencies about how no one crlticizes Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for their nutty claims. Yes, he actually went there.
After a back and forth, Malzberg finally deemed the whole Trump Moment as "making a big deal here about nothing."
This is why we do not bring wingnuts onto shows purporting to be media criticism shows. Fox News exists to promote lunatics like this. There is absolutely no reason why we should have to put up with it on CNN, or any other cable news show.
(Full transcript is available at CNN.com)