Doublethink again: Why Eric Alterman misses the point about the Birthers

I hate it when somebody posts an opinion piece I want to agree with, but just can’t.

Eric Alterman raises some good points about the “birther” bizarreness on CNN. Let’s face it, questions about John McCain’s claim to U.S. citizenship (he was born in the Panama Canal zone to citizens) have a lot more substance (which isn’t saying much) than questions about Barack Obama’s. But Obama is Black (partly, anyway) and McCain is white (enough, anyway, that no one questions it). I’ll let you draw your own conclusion about that.

Alterman expresses outrage, as have many on the left and among Progressives, that CNN allows Lou Dobbs to continue feeding wingnuts, giving credence to utterly discredited claims. He castigates the network for “tak[ing] no responsibility for whether the ‘news’ it broadcasts on its network is true or false, even if calls into question the fundamental legitimacy of our political system.”

“Fundamental legitimacy of our political system?” After all the shenanigans, including two stolen presidential elections, the Patriot Act, domestic spying, preemptive wars on false pretenses, of the Bush years, Alterman worries about the “fundamental legitimacy of our political system?” After the media served as a collective echo chamber for “Swift Boat” claims against John Kerry, but generated so much flack that then CBS anchor Dan Rather had to be fired for a story challenging George W. Bush’s draft dodging service to the Texas Air National Guard in 2004, Alterman worries about the “fundamental legitimacy of our political system?” Now?

Eric, I like you, but I gotta explain something. This horse left the barn a long, long time ago, and the discussion we need to be having now is not whether the mainstream media are serving their proper role in our political system, but how that role will now be filled in an era where traditional models have proven economically unsustainable.

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