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Los Angeles Times Accuses Romney of Stoking 'Birther Fears'

12:15 PM, Jul 18, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Here's how the Los Angeles Times handled the Romney campaign's critique of Obama's suggestion that business owners "didn't build" their companies:

Romney campaign's attacks on Obama play on 'birther' fears

IRWIN, Pa. — In remarks that played on debunked assertions about President Obama's birthplace, Mitt Romney on Tuesday said that the current administration resembled foreign governments and one of his chief surrogates said the president needed to "learn how to be an American."

The remarks — former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu later apologized for the latter comment — came as Romney tried to change the subject from calls for his tax returns and questions about the length of his tenure at the venture firm Bain Capital. Both issues have fueled sustained attacks from Democrats and even some Romney allies.

There is absolutely nothing about the content or context of Romney and Sunnunu's comments that suggest the campaign is trying to "play on 'birther' fears." It's laughable to suggest that's the case. Does anyone in the media think that pandering to birthers is a smart campaign strategy or even necessary? If you think Obama is a foreign-born Manchurian socialist, Romney probably already has your vote locked up. But going birther would definitely alienate needed independent voters -- it makes no sense to go birther. So what could possibly be the motive for the Los Angeles Times suggesting that's what the Romney campaign is doing here?

Then again, if political reporters didn't sacrifice the essential trust of readers in order to become a modern day haruspex in a transparent and desperate attempt to advance their own political agenda, that wouldn't allow journalists to indulge in their other favorite past time: bellyaching about how their industry is going down the drain. Of course, that's what happens when you regularly alienate half your potential readership.

The blogger Patterico, one of the more astute observers of Los Angeles politics, has some more thoughts here.

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