Howard Kurtz Takes David Gregory's Birther Side Over Bill O'Reilly's

CNN's Howard Kurtz on Sunday took David Gregory's side of the controversial birther issue over that of Bill O'Reilly.

After Gregory pestered House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) on last week's "Meet the Press" to rail against those that believe Barack Obama wasn't born in America, O'Reilly chastized him on Monday's "O'Reilly Factor" for wasting precious air time on this matter leading Kurtz to weigh in on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: All right, here is the question. Should Republican leaders who have never questioned President Obama's citizenship be questioned about others who question where he was born? After Fox News aired a focus group last week with GOP poster Frank Lutz, in which some Republicans said Obama is a Muslim who wasn't born in the United States, David Gregory raised the issue on "Meet the Press" with John Boehner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MEET THE PRESS: As the Speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?

JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me.

GREGORY: You shouldn't stand up to misinformation and stereotypes?

BOEHNER: But -- but I've made clear what I believe the facts are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: That line of questioning clearly annoyed Bill O'Reilly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, THE O'REILLY FACTOR: Sane, clear thinking people understand the president is not a Muslim and he wasn't born in Indonesia or whatever they're putting out there. So why does Meet the Press and NBC News take up valuable air time to hammer a guy who has nothing to do with it, Boehner?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: On ABC News, George Stephanopoulos raised the same issue with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who promptly ducked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Can you just state very clearly that President Obama is a Christian and he is a citizen of the United States?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, that isn't for me to state, that's for the president to state. And I think that when the president makes...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe it?

BACHMANN: ...when the president makes his statements, I think they need to stand for their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Here's the point. This birther nonsense, as O'Reilly suggests, is crazy talk. Crazy talk that some folks persist in believing. It's not crazy to ask a Republican Speaker if he would dismiss this kind of lunacy any more than it would be to ask a Democratic leader about nutty talk on the left.

In principle, I agree.

However, does anyone remember former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) being asked by members of the press to denounce folks that claimed George W. Bush stole the election from Al Gore in 2000? Or to scold those that said he was involved in the 9/11 attacks on this nation? Or to admonish those who accused him of lying the nation into war? Or to chastize those who believed he reacted slowly to Hurricane Katrina because he was racist?

These were the four major liberal memes in the previous decade that were just as commonly expressed by folks on the left as the birther issue is by some on the right today.

Far from asking Democrat leaders to admonish those purporting these conspiracy theories, it was quite common to see members of the media advancing and/or contemplating the veracity of them.

Now, with a new man in the White House being hounded by similarly unproven inventions, Kurtz thinks, "It's not crazy to ask a Republican Speaker if he would dismiss this kind of lunacy any more than it would be to ask a Democratic leader about nutty talk on the left.

If that's the case, then why wasn't Kurtz imploring his colleagues to ask Democrat leaders to dismiss nutty talk on the right when Bush was in office?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.