I found myself in a group conversation that included one of the more instantly recognizable media figures -- someone who personifies the phrase "mainstream media." Since this isn't something that happens every day, why not make the best of it? Why not ask this VIMP (Very Important Media Person) a question or two on the topics that I frequently criticize the press for not covering?
The problem was how to do so without unduly alarming the poor thing. My favorite kinds of questions might be distressing to VIMPs who never ask them, or even seem to think of them. I didn't want to scare off her (or him) without eliciting an answer. I had to consider carefully while my VIMP remained at hand in a perpetual state of high-definition recognition.
There was no doubt about what was uppermost on my list: Had this journalistic personage ever had the curiosity to download and examine the online document posted at the White House website that purports to be President Obama's long-form birth certificate? Had he (or she) ever weighed any analysis or investigation that concludes the online document is a digitally created forgery? Or did this exemplar of the Fourth Estate simply take the White House at its word?
Speaking of taking the White House at its word, a second subject I hoped to introduce concerned the many unanswered questions about the Benghazi attack. Did she (or he) consider the Obama administration adequately transparent about Benghazi and its many-layered cover-up? Maybe I should say many-layered "aftermath" so as not to be too shocking.
From the ongoing chatter, it became clear such topics would have the allure of stink bombs. So much conventional wisdom flowed about A-list topics such as "Obama and Boehner" and "what would Israel do about Iran?" that I felt as if I were in a rerun of a Sunday news show. At one point, the timing of the killing of Osama bin Laden came up. Why, after knowing the al-Qaida leader's whereabouts for eight or nine months, did Obama suddenly order a strike on May 2, 2011? It was all-around baffling.
At this point, I might have introduced my topic of interest. I could have noted that the death of bin Laden erased the birth certificate issue from the news, where, thanks to Donald Trump and author Jerome Corsi, it actually was commanding new levels of scrutiny that had prompted the White House to release its online document at a press conference on April 27, 2011. A few days later, boom -- bin Laden was dead. Wasn't that a little bit interesting? Imagining in response the cold, revolted stare reserved for unwelcome bugs, I said nothing.
I knew it would be hard to launch such a conversation without any context, which too often describes the condition of public discourse on the many issues that go uncovered or incompletely covered. In this instance, I was once again struck by the fact that my own local outlet, the soon-to-be-defunct daily Washington Examiner, had followed a blanket policy to reject any column I wrote about the Obama eligibility issue. Accordingly, the paper refused to run the column I devoted to that April 2011 press conference that the White House called exclusively to mark the release of Obama's online birth certificate. In the here and now, I would have to explain everything. I could never claim his (or her) attention for so long, so I let the moment pass.
Rather amazingly, a question did come up as to whether this in-the-know VIMP had ever seen Obama's college records. "No, why?" the VIMP replied, as if the question concerned looking at instructions for using a doorknob. Later, the VIMP's tradecraft became evident: "I don't think anything matters about Obama before the day he began serving as president." Here, most likely, was the answer to my question: No, the VIMP wasn't interested in eyeballing Obama's online identity artwork. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, fraud, it didn't matter. Nothing pre-presidency did -- not even, I was told, consideration of Obama's mentors, beginning with communist Frank Marshall Davis, and not even when it came to trying to parse Obama's political ideology.
OK, so what about Benghazi? The Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, during which four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed, definitely took place on Obama's watch as commander in chief. Did my VIMP believe there was any journalistic spadework still to be done to unearth the facts about what was happening in Washington during and after our Benghazi compound was attacked?
In a word, no. Blaming the fiasco on "negligence," this leading journalist declared there was no more to be seen, heard or spoken about. In so doing, this VIMP gave a pretty good impersonation of the three monkeys of oblivion who together symbolize blindness, deafness and dumbness. "It's not important." Naturally, if it's not important, administration lies and cover-up become wasted efforts not worth spending time on.
Richard Nixon would have really liked this character.
Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.