President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman on Tuesday evening lashed out at Forbes magazine for publishing a highly controversial cover story asserting that the president’s political views stem from a belief in Kenyan “anticolonialism.”
“Why didn’t Forbes hire a fact checker for their cover ‘story’?” wrote White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Twitter. “Or did they simply not care about the facts?”
The lengthy polemic, written by conservative Dinesh D’Souza, painted Obama as a quasi-foreigner who is unable to connect with American values. It received wide attention after its thesis was endorsed Sunday by Republican Newt Gingrich, who may run for president in 2012.
Gibbs’ post linked to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review that excoriates the Forbes story as “a gross piece of innuendo—a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia. This is the worst kind of smear journalism—a singularly disgusting work.” The CJR piece dug through its numerous factual inaccuracies.
Less than an hour later, the White House spokesman doubled down with another Tweet that read: “More of the fact checking that Forbes either failed to do or willfully ignored” — this one linked to a post on the Web site “The Fourth Branch,” which depicted the article, and Gingrich’s remarks about it, as blatant smears.
The Tweets mark what may be the White House’s most forceful attack on a news organization since it slammed Fox News as essentially a communications arm of the Republican Party.
The premises of the Forbes story, while permeating the national dialogue this week, have been roundly criticized by mainstream news organizations and conservative and liberal writers.
“I DON’T find it at all difficult to understand how Barack Obama thinks, because most of his beliefs are part of the broad consensus in America’s centre or centre-left,” wrote M.S. in The Economist, positing that D’Souza’s thesis “doesn’t make any sense on its own terms.”
“I didn’t find Dinesh D’Souza’s cover story in Forbes as ‘stunning’ or ‘profound’ in its insight into the president as Newt Gingrich did,” wrote Ramesh Ponnuru in the conservative National Review. He added: “I think that it is a mistake to imagine that Obama is a deeply mysterious figure, as opposed to a conventional liberal.”
Politico reporter Ben Smith called the Forbes story “weirdly sloppy in its details” and alleged that it “fell apart in its attempt to merge a kind of cultural case against Obama into the charge that he’s governed as a socialist in a grand unified theory of why to hate Obama.”