CNN Scurries to Distance Obama From Illegal Immigrant Uncle Onyango

August 31st, 2011 11:42 AM

Yesterday on CNN's The Situation Room, the story of President Barack Obama's uncle's arrest on charges of driving under the influence was reported.  Make that Barack Obama's half-uncle, as anchor Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Brian Todd identified him that way at least nine times.  Todd even presented a wall chart detailing "a complicated and very fascinating family tree." 

CNN and Blitzer haven't always emphasized Obama's precise relationship with other relatives.  From The Situation Room of April 12, 2011:

BLITZER:And President Obama's sister is speaking out about Donald Trump and the birther controversy. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The sister is Maya Soetoro-Ng, who is the president's half-sister.

And from May 17, 2010:

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well a U.S. immigration judge says President Obama's Kenyan aunt is allowed to stay in the United States. The ruling ends a six-year battle over her status. Zeituni Onyango is the half sister of the president's late father. She applied for political asylum in 2002 because violence in her homeland.

Zeituni Onyango is actually Obama's half-aunt, although not described in that manner.

On the same day, anchor Richard Liu on CNN Newsroom:

LUI: OK, checking our top story this hour.

Just in, a U.S. immigration judge says President Obama's Kenyan aunt can stay in the United States, ending a six-year legal battle. Two government sources confirmed the ruling will give legal status to Zeituni Onyango.

 Here's a portion of Todd's report on yesterday's The Situation Room:

TODD: CNN has done many stories investigating that so called birth issue and we've never found any evidence that the president is not a natural born American.

But the president has a complicated and very fascinating family tree. I'll try to run it by you here. His grandfather was married three times. His third wife, a woman named Sarah Onyango, is the one who gave birth to the half-uncle who is in question in this case. That is the president's half-uncle.

Now, it's his sister, Zeituni Obama, who as we mentioned in the piece, involved in that legal case she was denied asylum in 2004 and then was granted the right to stay in the country legally last year. That's half-aunt, half-uncle on the father's side from the grandfather's third wife.

Now, remember, this family tree is only on Mr. Obama's father's side of the family. That's what makes this so fascinating. So his grandfather's second wife is the one who gave birth to Mr. Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Senior. And then he had -- was the father who was married to Ann Dunham who gave birth to President Obama. So we wanted to show you kind of the different people on the family tree just on the father's side of the family.

You've got the grandfather having different wives, and Mr. Obama's family also had three different wives and a partner. So a lot of people to keep track of just on Mr. Obama's father's side of the family -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd with a good explanation of that side of the president's family.

Looks like when an Obama is in trouble, CNN feels the need to get fastidious about who's who in the family tree.