MSNBC’s David Shuster Smears: ‘Most Republicans’ Are Birthers

MSNBC’s David Shuster on Tuesday used a poll by the liberal website Daily Kos to assert that "most Republicans" don’t believe Barack Obama was born in America and, thus, are birthers. Shuster marveled, "...As the Democrats try to talk about working with Republicans, given those numbers of Republican supporters, how is that possible?" [Audio available here.]

Citing a survey that also claims 23 percent of self-identified Republicans want to secede from the union, Shuster quizzed Andy Barr from Politico as to the poll’s meaning. After Shuster correctly noted, "It is a documented fact. The President was born in Hawaii," he used this one poll to declare, "And most Republicans aren't sure, don't believe it; there you have it."

So, one poll, by a left-wing website (in conjunction with the firm Research 2000), is enough for MSNBC to assert that 58 percent of GOPers subscribe to a bizarre conspiracy? A Rasmussen poll from May of 2007 found that 61 percent of Democrats either believed that George Bush knew about the 9/11 terror attack in advance or aren’t sure. Does that mean that "most Democrats" are Truthers?

Politico’s Barr urged Shuster to use some caution. Speaking of the Daily Kos founder, he warned, "Well, the first thing I want to caution is these are kind of the top lines that Markos Moulitsas put out on Twitter last night. We haven't seen the survey sample and everything." (The sample has since been put online.)

Discussing the issue with Shuster, Barr took a shot at Fox News’ Glenn Beck: "...Just looking at the stuff, those social issues, and you know, some of the more conspiratorial things put out there by Glenn Beck and others, some of the stuff out there on the fringe is really starting to resonate."

The above statement is clumsy at best in that it seems to link Beck with the birther conspiracy. In fact, the FNC host has slammed the false idea that Obama wasn’t born in America as "the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard."

MSNBC seems to be embracing the plan, first put out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, that Republicans should be linked to birthers. On Monday, host Tamron Hall asked if the conspiracy theory is the "definition of a conservative."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 10:46am EST on February 2, follows:

DAVID SHUSTER: Meanwhile, we’ve got a new snapshot of Republican Party and Republican Party supporters, fresh off that major victory for the GOP in the Massachusetts Senate race. According to the poll from the liberal blog Daily Kos/Research 2000, 39 percent of self-identified Republicans say President Obama should be impeached, 63 percent think he's a socialist. Less than half, 42 percent, believe he was born in the United States. In other words, 58 percent either don't believe it or aren't sure. Politico's Andy Barr joins us live. And, Andy, as the Democrats try to talk about working with Republicans, given those numbers of Republican supporters, how is that possible?

ANDY BARR: Well, the first thing I want to caution is these are kind of the top lines that Markos Moulitsas put out on Twitter last night. We haven’t seen the survey sample and everything. Now, Survey 2000 certainly it is a firm that is reputable. They have gotten a lot of stuff right, but that is just the one clarifier here. But, in looking at the numbers, some of the stuff is crazy. I mean, we’re talking, you know, a fifth of the Republican Party thinks that ACORN stole the election and want to secede from the country and 40 percent think Barack Obama was born in another country. I mean, it’s really kind of shocking. We talk about stuff all the time but to see that this many people believe and subscribe to some of these beliefs is, you know, is really kind of hard to wrap your arms around.

SHUSTER: In fact, referring to those other numbers, number two, 53 percent believe Sarah Palin more qualified to be President than President Obama. 23 percent self-identified Republicans want to secede from the United States. 21 percent Say ACORN stole the presidential election, 73 percent against gay teachers. What do you make of this?

BARR: I mean, if they have are the survey sample right, which, again, you know, there’s no indication they wouldn't, it shows the party is a lot farther right than I think anyone really grasps on some of these social issues. I think you know, the gay teachers thing is really shocking. One of the things they noted is that is actually, you know, farther to the right than Ronald Reagan in 1978 when there were people in California pushing this kind of thing. So you know, again, just looking at the stuff, those social issues, and you know, some of the more conspiratorial things put out there by Glenn Beck and others, some of the stuff out there on the fringe is really starting to resonate.

SHUSTER: Andy Barr from Politico, Andy, thanks so much. And, again, you are absolutely right. I mean, when- it is a fact. It is a documented fact. The President was born in Hawaii. And most Republicans aren't sure; don't believe it, there you have it. Thanks, Andy.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org