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How Lou Dobbs Scared Rush Limbaugh Off the Birther Story

The media backlash that Dobbs set off made sure that nobody will ever take the birthers seriously again.

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Think about it, without Dobbs suddenly out front leading the stragglers who make the birther parade, do you think NBC would have devoted four minutes of its Nightly News to thoroughly debunk the story? I doubt it. And that's why I think everyone now owes Dobbs a hearty round of applause. Because let's face it, he did in one week what nobody else had been able to do during the previous 51: put an end to the birther movement.

And while we're patting Dobbs on the back, I'm pretty sure Dobbs scared Limbaugh off the birther story -- or, more precisely, the pummeling Dobbs received scared Limbaugh off the birther story. And that's a big deal within the Republican Noise Machine. Birthers had been courting Limbaugh for months and cheered in June when the turbo talker at least made a birther joke on the air: "Barack Obama has one thing in common with God. Do you know what it is? God does not have a birth certificate either."

As David Weigel at The Washington Independent reported:

On June 16, after Limbaugh joked about the president's citizenship, WorldNetDaily editor-in-chief Joseph Farah appeared on the Web-based Recharge Radio to thank the host for spreading the "birther" message. "What that did is beyond Rush's impact," said Farah. "It also gives other talk show hosts license to talk about this issue ... Rush is kind of the standard of talk show hosts. A lot of people emulate what he does. He crossed the Rubicon on that show, and I'm very proud of him for doing it."

Earlier this month, just as the Dobbs circus was setting up shop, Limbaugh returned to the topic in a far more serious vein, saying: "Barack Obama has yet to have to prove he's a citizen. All he'd have to do is show a birth certificate."

That was July 20, around the same time Dobbs waded into the birther pool and just days before the CNN host ignited massive media blowback. But here's the tell: Have you noticed Limbaugh's deafening silence about the birthers since July 20th? Have you noticed how the birther movement was in the news virtually every day last week, how the mainstream press was debunking it and calling out the right-wing nonsense, how NBC's Nightly News referred to Limbaugh in its birther report, yet Limbaugh remained mum? Rather than step forward in his natural role as a birther defender and attacker of all-things Obama, Limbaugh has sat out the birther controversy and watched its members get mowed down in the press.

Limbaugh's scared to talk about the birthers and won't defend them because he has seen how Dobbs and the movement got manhandled by the press -- including by conservative commentators. In fact, Limbaugh himself took some friendly fire from Philip Klein at the far-right American Spectator who, under the headline, "Shame on Rush," announced: "To any sane human being, there is no controversy."

Limbaugh saw how the press was sticking to the birth certificate facts and wasn't shy about knocking down high-paid radio hosts who tried to traffic in that nonsense.

And guess what? If Limbaugh won't back the birthers, that means most right-wing AM hosts won't either. Because that business is built upon a very simple (lemming) rule: Do whatever Rush does. And if Limbaugh won't line up on the side of the birthers, than means most AM talkers won't either, which means the birthers are going to be pushed back to the fringes where they belong.

And for that, we have Lou Dobbs to thank.

 
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