When CNN correspondent Candy Crowley mentioned birthers on Lou Dobbs’ show last week, the host panicked. “Don’t say ‘birthers,’ whatever you do,” he said. “Not on this broadcast.” Dobbs has become a much-ridiculed face of the birther movement, but he's discussed the issue only five times since July, Politico reports. Over the same period, 29 different primetime shows on left-leaning MSNBC have addressed the craze.
The MSNBC talking heads are mostly mocking or debunking birther claims, but critics say even that’s too much. One journalism scholar says networks shouldn’t be devoting “considerable attention to a rumor that has been legitimately debunked.” But a recent poll shows that 58% of Republicans aren’t sure whether President Obama was born in the US, an MSNBC exec points out. “At that point, you realize it’s not just a fringe movement.”