Fox News anchor Heather Childers caused quite a stir Tuesday night when she tweeted links to stories alleging that President Obama once threatened to kill Chelsea Clinton. "Thoughts? Did Obama Campaign Threaten Chelsea Clinton's Life 2 Keep Parents Silent?" she tweeted, linking to an article on the birther blog Godfather Politics that spun up an "insane conspiracy theory." Supposedly, the story claimed, during the '08 campaign, the Clintons unearthed proof that Obama was Kenyan and Team Obama threatened to murder Chelsea Clinton in order to silence them. Here, a guide to the madness:
The story really accuses Obama of plotting murder?
Yes. The article claims that members of Obama's campaign threatened to kill Chelsea Clinton if her parents ever went public with the supposed proof that Obama was born in Kenya. Godfather's source is a video producer named Bettina Viviano, who says she came across people attesting to these claims while working on a documentary about voter fraud in the 2008 election. Godfather Politics also alleges that Obama was involved in the murder of a former head of the Arkansas Democratic Party. It's a "crackpot theory," says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel.
And a Fox News anchor tweeted this?
Yes. She tweeted out links to a series of provocative articles, including another from Godfather Politics titled "President Obama channels Joseph Stalin and attacks Supreme Court justices" and one posted on Examiner titled "Supreme Court: Authenticity of Obama's birth certificate 'cause for concern.'" Fox watchdog Media Matters quickly flagged the tweets, and Childers responded by tweeting that Fox anchors "present both sides but people see what they want," concluding, "Here's the thing folks… that ONE topic sure go alot [sic] of you tweeting. Why?"
People were upset, right?
The backlash was swift and fierce. Childers is supposed to be a reputable news anchor, says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. That "Godfather piece is trash," and Childers "gave it gravitas. She helped spread the insanity." The liberal website Daily Kos called Childers "an evil demon."
Did she apologize?
Eventually, yes, via Twitter. And she's since made her Twitter feed private. Fox News senior VP Michael Clemente also apologized: "The tweets have been addressed with Heather and she understands this was a mistake."
Will she be fired?
"Most serious organizations would say 'adios' to" a news anchor who acted so irresponsibly, says Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice. "But there are serious news organizations and then — apparently — there is Fox." Tweeting those articles was certainly a confusing move, says Sager. "But it doesn't make her a monster." After all, she never said she agreed with the Godfather Politics post. She was simply soliciting opinion on it. Still, "it probably would have been smarter if Childers had read the post and moved on without tweeting it."