- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

What follows is a column adducing still more evidence of the trivial nature of the contemporary American news media.

The other morning, I was lying in bed recovering from minor surgery, my body heaving off the residual effects of a powerful anesthetic, Proposal. Believe me, it is a powerful anesthetic. It thrust me into the utmost darkness for 40 minutes, according to my doctor. It could have been for eternity. I would have had no idea.

I cannot imagine why people abuse such charmless drugs. Why not just pull the trigger as Ernest Hemingway pulled the trigger and enter the darkness forever with absolutely no more pain?

Incidentally, Proposal is one of the substances Michael Jackson repaired to for sleep. If he found security in Proposal, his life must have been hell when he was awake.

Yet to return to the District and to my trivial media story. The last aftereffects of Proposal were giving way as I read my doctor’s strict instructions. For the remainder of the day, I was not to “drive a car … use a hot stove … heavy machinery … or make important decisions.”

As I read his enjoinder against making important decisions, the telephone rang. A media booker was at my ear inquiring whether I would accept the invitation of a well-known cable news show to talk about how the Republican Party was being affected by Obama critics who have been harassing Democratic politicians with claims that the president did not have a legitimate birth certificate and was born abroad, perhaps in Botswana or Upper Volta or Lapland. On his provenance, there is no unanimity among these critics.

Well, my doctor’s instructions did counsel that I not “make important decisions,” but how would that hinder me on a political talk show? As I saw it, I would be in perfect condition to answer the witty ripostes of cable news’ talking heads, say Tucker Carlson or Jon Stewart.

I agreed to do the afternoon show so long as I did not have to drive a car or use heavy machinery to get to the studio. Moreover, I had good news for the booker. Choosing me to discuss the president’s national origins was an inspired choice. A crack reporter of mine at the American Spectator had investigated the matter when it was a hot rumor during the presidential election and found no empirical evidence in support of the story.

Better yet, the Spectator’s reporter found evidence militating against the story. At the time of President Obama’s birth in 1961, a notice of the blessed event was published in the major Hawaiian newspaper. I would not rule out dark and treacherous conspiracies by a Democratic president, especially one in cahoots with Rahm Emanuel, but a conspiracy going back almost five decades exceeds even Mr. Emanuel’s diablerie.

Thus, I would gladly appear on this news show and present evidence that the questions about the president’s place of birth are without merit. The news story is nonsense. Those who dwell on it are distracting us from today’s real issues: the Obama administration’s bankrupting of the country, its attempt to transform American health care into a rationing system against senior citizens and the chronically ill, its “cap-and-trade” bill guaranteeing high unemployment and higher energy costs in time of recession.

Well, ha-ha-ha. Back comes my disappointed booker after conveying the good news that we would be setting the record straight on the show shortly. Alas, the show’s producers did not want me to set the record straight. They had wanted me to defend the false story. But I reminded the booker that I knew the story to be false. In fact, I had provided the show with irrefutable proof that the story is false. Mr. Obama is American-born.

The show proceeded to find a guest who would repeat the false story, either knowingly or out of ignorance — so much for getting to the truth of issues on television. As for me, I would never knowingly publish anything I knew to be untrue, not in this column or in the American Spectator.

I shall make a prediction. This presidency will be one of the greatest presidential disappointments in a generation. Arriving on the grim winds of recession, with two wars already going on, the administration’s failures are going to be a serious challenge to the country’s well-being. If major media continue to treat the news as entertainment rather than the dissemination and analysis of fact, they are going to create still more danger for the country. I say, let them eat Proposal.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.