Michael Moore might be upset, but again on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, host John Dickerson hailed PBS star Ken Burns as “the most renowned documentary film maker of his time.” Burns has a more academic, less comical tone, but he’s just as radically to the left.
The occasion is the 25th anniversary of the Burns documentary The Civil War. PBS is rolling the old show out again, and Burns is starring in pledge drives. Burns perfectly defines PBS as a haven for liberal Obama-loving snobs. He told CBS that America is still quite racist under Obama, and birtherism was a thinly disguised use of the N-word:
BURNS: We pretend with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some kind of post-racial society, and of course, you know, we’re not! The Onion magazine got it right when he was inaugurated. It said ‘Black man given worst job in world.’ And what we’ve seen is a kind of reaction to this – the birther movement, to which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N-word. It’s just more sophisticated, and a little bit more clever. He’s other. He’s different. What’s actually other and different about him? It turns out it’s same old thing, it’s the color of his skin.
This is a favorite Burns line. In a 2012 interview with Ed Rampell for the radical-left magazine The Progressive, Burns offered a similar analysis:
BURNS: People have glossed it over, and said things like "birther" or "he's a Muslim." They would have used the "N" word a couple of generations ago. It's still complicated, but we've also made progress. The person that they're referring to happens to be the president of the United States, which a lot of people swore that they would, you know, die, rather than let that happen. And nothing's happened; he's proved to be an effective leader...
RAMPELL: Some of those people are "the birthers of a nation."
BURNS: Well, it's not of a nation. What they reflect are the oldest thing: If you can't be honest with your racism, then you disguise it, you call it something else. You say, "Oh, he's not really an American." You start a "birther" movement. Because you're delegitimizing -- this is what Jim Crow did, this is what slavery did. It's the same thing... In France, when we were at the Cannes Film Festival, they asked: "Could this happen today?" And we said: "Well, there's a Black kid named Treyvon [sic] Martin who's just died -- and yeah, he'd be alive if he wasn't Black."
CBS and Dickerson weren't about to challenge Burns like this: if lies against Obama are badly disguised racism, how do you feel about lies Obama told to make himself look good? As Washington Post editor David Maraniss relayed on NBC when his biography Barack Obama came out in 2012, the president's memoir Dreams From My Father should be defined as literature, not history:
You know, a lot of the mythology of the family was passed along to him that he didn't check. Like, that his step-grandfather in Indonesia he thought died fighting the Dutch in the anti-colonial war. In fact, the man died of a heart attack falling off an ottoman changing the drapes in his living room. You know, that sort of story is something that the president did not check. And when I told him the reality of so many of those things he said, you're probably right."