The story of ‘Reagan’s Childhood Home’: A case study

The story of 'Reagan's Childhood Home': A case study
The story of 'Reagan's Childhood Home': A case study

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had apparently been confronted with enough inquiries about the still-nonexistent Obama Library parking lot that he took his response to Twitter yesterday: “Stand down.”

What was he referring to? As it turns out, a Washington Times website ran a piece by Republican activist arguing that Ronald Reagan’s childhood home “could become a parking lot” for President Obama’s future library. From there, it went to Newsmax, then Fox Nation, before reaching “Fox & Friends” this morning.

Is there anything to this? Of course not.

The “childhood home” is an apartment Reagan lived in for less than a year as a young child, and its planned demolition is part of an expansion by the University of Chicago that has nothing to do with President Obama’s presidential library.

Nearly a decade ago, the University of Chicago purchased an old apartment building so the property could be used as a parking lot for its medical school. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks considered appeals to preserve the building – Reagan lived in an apartment for less than a year when he was four – but concluded that the site “is not associated with Mr. Reagan during his active and productive years.”

So, the building will be torn down and the University of Chicago Medical Center will have more parking. Why is this politically interesting? It’s not. What does it have to do with Obama? Nothing.

But to hear some on the right tell it, Obama taught at the school, and First Lady Michelle Obama was on the university board, so maybe the president’s library will be on campus, and maybe the library will use this new parking lot.

Which would be outrageous. Or something.

Ben Dimiero explained this morning, “While easily dismissed, the story serves as an illustrative example of the way the conservative echo chamber can twist facts and turn baseless speculation into their controversy du jour.”

Something to keep in mind when your angry uncle who watches Fox News sends you an all-caps email about this later.

Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama

The story of 'Reagan's Childhood Home': A case study