White House press secretary Jay Carney ripped CNN’s Ed Henry for asking about President Obama’s birth certificate on Tuesday. Birtherism, or the belief among some Americans that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve in his office, has picked up steam in the media with potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump touting it.
When Henry asked Carney why the president hasn’t just released his birth certificate to end the conspiracy once and for all and if the White House isn’t releasing it because Obama thinks the birthers will just move the “goal post,” Carney turned the question around on Henry. “Well, what do you think, Ed?,” Carney asked. “Do you think they might keep moving the goal posts?”
Henry shot back. “You’re the president’s press secretary,” he said to Carney. “I’m asking you what you think.”
Carney followed that by saying he does think the birth certificate issue is a “distraction, obviously” and that it is a “settled issue.”
“The birth certificate, the campaign put up online,” Carney said. “It’s been available for everyone to see, around the globe. It’s the same birth certificate you get to get a driver’s license. Anybody who was born in Hawaii who asks for their birth certificate gets the same thing that the campaign and the White House has provided to the press.”
Carney said he also thinks most Americans aren’t happy with the media debate Trump has ignited questioning Obama’s true origins. “Anybody who is watching this exchange, the West Wing of the White House would be appalled, or most Americans would be appalled,” Carney said.
Henry is hardly the first White House correspondent to bring up Obama’s birth certificate. In an interview last fall, ABC News reporter Jake Tapper asked Obama adviser David Axelrod about the administration’s attacks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and compared the administration’s narrative to the birther argument with the goal of “disproving a conspiratorial negative.” When Axelrod said the Chamber needed to “disclose the source of the $75 million that they are spending in campaigns,” Tapper replied: “Isn’t that like the whackjobs that tell the president he needs to show them his full long-form birth certificate so he can put to rest the questions that have been raised?”* Axelrod dodged the birther question.
World Net Daily’s Lester Kinsolving has repeatedly asked about Obama’s long-form birth certificate and related issues. In most instances, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and most of the rest of the press corps would mock the conservative journalist for raising the topic.
*This story has been updated to add more context surrounding Tapper’s reference to Obama’s birth certificate.