Q: Is Obama’s brother really dirt poor in Kenya and living on a dollar a day?
A: CNN tracked down George Obama, and he said that he was "brought up well" and "live[s] well now."
On August 21, tabloids and news organizations picked up reports from the Italian edition of Vanity Fair about George Obama, Barack Obama’s half brother, living in Nairobi, Kenya. The magazine said George was "earning less than a dollar a day." The Daily Telegraph in London trumpeted the news with this line:
Daily Telegraph: Senator Barack Obama’s long lost brother has been tracked down for the first time living in a shanty town in Kenya, reports claimed.
Stateside, our own New York Post gave it this all-caps treatment:
New York Post: BARACK BROTHER IN SHACK SHOCK LIVING IN KENYA ON $1 A MONTH AND ASHAMED TO REVEAL WHO HE IS
The Texas Republican Party even made a Web video, attacking Obama for being uncaring. It had garnered over 100,000 views on YouTube before being removed. But the story is hardly as sensational as some made it sound. As background, Obama and his half-brother, George, share a biological father, Barack Obama Sr., but have different mothers. The father left when Obama was 2 years old, and he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents in the U.S. and, for a few years, in Indonesia. George grew up in Kenya.
Neither had their father as much of a presence in their lives. The two met briefly when George, who is about 20 years younger than Barack, was very young. After the Italian Vanity Fair story was reported, a CNN correspondent caught up with George Obama and interviewed him on camera. When asked about the brouhaha about his economic situation, he said that the media reports made him angry, adding:
George Obama: I was brought up well. I live well even now. The magazines, they have exaggerated everything … There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you [the reporter] come from, there are the same challenges.