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‘Born in Kenya’ revelation embarrasses media (or at least it should)

I don’t think there’s any honest person — left or right — who thinks America’s media has been particularly tough on Barack Obama.

I’ll guarantee you that the Hillary Clinton campaign still smarts from what it thinks was biased coverage in the primary in the last primary election cycle. And in the past three and half years the reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post and to a lesser extent the Associated Press have covered the Obama administration’s clear failures on the economy with the "ifs, ands and buts" of a sympathetic mother defending her child’s report card.

Now comes a smoking gun that should embarrass the mainstream media. The book publisher for Barack Obama in the early years touted in print Obama this way:

"Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation."

The fact that this never came to mainstream light until now is nothing short of stunning. How did the New York Times miss this? How did the Washington Post miss this? How did the Associated Press miss this? Do you mean to tell me that in the files at the Chicago Tribune there wasn’t one single reference to this in Obama’s bio file?

This is not to say in any way that Obama was actually born in Kenya. He was born in Hawaii. But because his birth place was such a big controversy in 2008, how could this official book tout of Obama (which as used up until 2007) not find its way into the needed vetting of this man who wanted to be president.

The point of all this is, again, not to fall into the "birther" trap, but to illustrate that the book publisher (and I think Barack Obama) liked the description of being "born in Kenya" because it distinguished him from other writers of books. In other words, it helped his career.

But once he became a U.S. senator and then presidential candidate, the foreign label was no longer useful. That stretch of the truth needed to be dropped.

What this all means to me as a lifetime newspaperman is it’s time for the New York Times and the Washington Post et al to stop pulling punches for this president and start doing the job America needs them to do.

Who is the president, really? What makes him tick. What’s the truth about his childhood and how does that effect his thinking now. Why did he let the publisher describe him so? Why has he stretched the other stories about his past — both his mother’s "fight" with insurance companies when she was ill with cancer and his relationship with his father. What’s the pattern mean?

People I know who went to high school with President Obama say that his nickname then was "Barry the Stoner." If a 1965 alleged prank by Mitt Romney is news in the Washington Post, could they please tell me a story or two about how "Barry the Stoner" got his nickname?

Voters deserve a harder look at this guy from the nation’s press. Stop the rooting and start the vetting. Better late than never.

 

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