"Is there something on Obama's birth certificate he does not want us to see? Foe shizzle." - Pamela Geller
The White House, in releasing President Obama's long-form birth certificate this morning, has crushed once and for all the falsehood that animated the birther movement -- the claim that Barack Obama is not a citizen of the United States and is thus ineligible for the presidency. The birthers' zealous adherence to that ludicrous allegation has resulted in an impressive number of embarrassing failures for the movement, and now seems like a good time to chronicle the best of the worst.
10: Michelle Obama Accidentally Admitted Obama Was Born In Kenya... Twice
Last year, conservative websites promoted two video clips of Michelle Obama supposedly going birther. In the first, she called her husband "Kenyan," and in another she referred to Barack's "home country" as "Kenya." Rather than view both comments as what they clearly were -- a reference to the fact that Barack Obama's ancestors on his father's side hail from Kenya -- some of the leading lights of the conservative blogosphere suggested they were an accidental admission by Michelle Obama that her husband was born in Kenya.
American Thinker publisher Thomas Lifson wrote that Michelle's "rather whiny harangue" means that the question, "Is Michelle Obama a birther?" now "has to be asked." Fox Nation embedded one of the videos on their site with the headline "Birther Up in Arms Over First Lady 'Home Country' Video." Leading birther website/national laughingstock WorldNetDaily promoted both videos.
9. Obama's "Real" Fathers: Jimi Hendrix, Malcolm X, Anonymous "Black Guy"
One of the more amusing subsets of birtherism involved wild speculation regarding Obama's "true" parentage. Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs famously reposted an intricate theory suggesting that Obama was really the love child of Malcolm X. Anti-Semitic liar Andy Martin posited that Obama is actually the offspring of Frank Marshall Davis, a controversial writer and political activist who lived in Hawaii. Jack Cashill offered up Jimi Hendrix as a potential father for the first black president, but gave more credence to the notion that "a black guy had impregnated" Obama's mother, and Barack Obama Sr. was bribed by Obama's grandparents to stand in as the boy's father.
Despite the hype it's getting from conservative writers, the Atlas Shrugged movie is far from a ringing box office success. But since the movie's commercial failure does not fit with the Fox narrative -- "scrappy Tea Party film shocks stupid commie Hollywood liberals with its capitalist victories" -- Fox News has decided to just completely ignore reality and continue to declare the movie a success.
Have a look at the Fox & Friends segment this morning hyping what Doocy called "a great movie" and the chyron declared a "Victory For Capitalism."
Doocy frames his spin using familiar lines: while the "Hollywood community had very low expectations for this particular film," it has supposedly "really taken off" with "people who were aligned with the Tea Party." Guest host Juliet Huddy also played up the Tea Party connection, saying that the film "sort of goes along with the Tea Party movement, it sort of just came out of nowhere and it really blossomed - kind of understandable." Doocy added that the message of the film is "about capitalism," prompting Kilmeade to interject that people "don't need your entitlements!"
In an impressive display of lying by omission, Kilmeade laid out the hard numbers on the film: "You got 299 theaters last weekend - it averaged they say, and this is a lot of money for people in the business, they say this is staggering, $5,640 per screen - so now, Juliet, they are going to roll it out in 425" screens.
Kilmeade points to the opening weekend numbers, which he claimed "they say" is "staggering" (more like "pretty okay") and then makes it sound like the movie would be expanding into 425 theaters in the near future. But that already happened.
As we already documented, the movie rolled out into 465 theaters this past weekend ... and promptly collapsed. The "staggering" per screen average of $5,640 that Kilmeade was hyping took a freefall down to $1890, and the gross plummeted almost 48%.
Since its release 10 days ago, some conservative writers have done their best to portray the Atlas Shrugged movie as a runaway box office success.
For example, have a look at this post on the Washington Times site by conservative Bill Kelly about how "fervent fans of Ayn Rand - or Randians as they are called - have been packing theaters where the film is being shown."
According to Kelly, the movie's "box office success stuns liberal Hollywood" and serves as evidence that Rand's story "may be resonating more than ever before and that can't be sitting well with Hollywood progressives." The fact that the movie was "racking up dollar signs" supposedly stood to defy "Hollywood's best efforts to keep the movie down." In your faces, liberals.
Articles last week touting the movie's success were a bit hyperbolic. While the film's opening weekend gross was mild, writers like Kelly touted the film's $5,640 per screen average as an impressive achievement and hyped the fact that the film would be rolling into more theaters soon.
So how'd the second weekend go? Poorly.
After adding 166 screens around the country (bringing the total to 465 screens in the U.S.), the film's gross plummeted almost 48%, and the per-screen average sank to an estimated $1,890. By comparison, it barely edged out Jane Eyre in total gross -- and lost badly in per-screen average -- though Jane Eyre is in its 7th week of release. Curiously, I haven't seen many conservatives suggesting a groundswell of grassroots fervor for the works of Charlotte Bronte.
As David Weigel explains at Slate, "there's no new audience discovering the film," and "a buzz -building small film doesn't fall off from week to week."
How are conservative sites responding to the apparent collapse of Atlas Shrugged? If Fox Nation is any indication: by ignoring the terrible second weekend and promoting outdated articles from last week about the movie's "Box Office Power."
The story, posted this morning, goes to a report by the Hollywood Reporter's Paul Bond from last week (before the movie cratered this weekend) about how the success of the movie surprised Hollywood execs "considering its 'awful' marketing plan."
As of this writing, the film has grossed just over $3 million, compared to a reported production cost of about $20 million.
WorldNetDaily, which Alex Pareene appropriately dubbed the "biggest, dumbest wingnut site on the Web," has been cashing in on birther nonsense for several years now. If you head to their online "Superstore" you'll find everything you need to advertise your detachment from reality, including "Where's the Birth Certificate?" bumper stickers for your car, signs for your yard, t-shirts, and more.
Their latest - and probably biggest - cash grab is noted liar Jerome Corsi's upcoming book, Where's The Birth Certificate? (Answer: in Hawaii.) Jerome Corsi is a discredited clown who has been embarrassing himself for years over the birther "issue," including going on Fox & Friends before the '08 election and accusing the administration of posting a "fake" certificate online that, according to a "good analysis of it on the internet" had "been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop." He also suggested to G. Gordon Liddy in 2008 that Obama was visiting Hawaii not just to be with his then-dying grandmother, but to also do... something... relating to his birth certificate.
Nevertheless, Corsi's book, published by WND, hit #1 on Amazon's bestseller list this week, thanks in no small part to prominent promotion from Drudge (and a variety of conservative sites like Fox Nation and Glenn Beck's The Blaze).
Continuing Fox News' full embrace of birtherism, WND CEO Joseph Farah will reportedly appear on David Asman's program on the Fox Business Network tonight to "talk birth certificate" and discuss Corsi's upcoming book. This should be a friendly place for Farah to promote Corsi's book, considering Asman's recent assertion that before he declares Obama was born in the U.S., he wants to "see all the evidence."
During an interview on Bill Cunningham's radio show last month, Farah claimed to talk to Fox's lead birther Sean Hannity "every day." Farah also suggested that he had been blacklisted by Fox over birtherism: "I was on Fox regularly before this... the minute we started on this campaign, the minute we started putting billboards up across this country, it stopped."
Looks like the ban has been lifted.
During a combative interview with David Shuster this morning, Andrew Breitbart said that "Glenn Beck threw me under the bus" over the Shirley Sherrod story. Breitbart reportedly told the New York Observer the same thing: "Next thing I know, I'm under complete attack without the support of Glenn Beck, who I thought was somebody I could count on ... He threw me under the bus."
Breitbart is likely referring to the fact that after promoting Breitbart's edited Sherrod tape on his radio program and claiming it was evidence of Sherrod "discriminating against white farmers," Beck went on his Fox News program that night and offered support for Sherrod. (In his typically dishonest fashion, Beck has since tried to rewrite history to erase the fact that he ever promoted the edited tape.)
Breitbart likely thought he could "count on" Beck due to Beck's regular promotion of various Breitbart-promoted stories up that point -- Beck hyped the release of O'Keefe's ACORN tapes after Breitbart gave him exclusive access.
These latest comments come after Breitbart took a swipe at Beck and his 8-28 rally on MSNBC yesterday and Breitbart's comments to the Daily Caller that Beck has been trying to "position himself against his conservative competitors to try and appease Media Matters."
Earlier today, Obama released a message commemorating Passover. As reported by Haaretz, Obama "likened the holiday's story to the revolutions sweeping the Middle East":
This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.
Against the backdrop of change, we continue to pray for peace between Israel and her neighbors, while reaffirming our enduring commitment to Israel's security.
As they reflexively do with everything Obama does, conservative bloggers immediately started attacking him for his statement.
Pam Geller headlined her post about Obama's message "Obama's Ultimate Insult to the Jews on Pesach." She attacked him as "wicked, vicious" for praising the "the rise of Islamic annihilationists in Middle East." She said that the story is evidence of "how sick his soul is" and concluded that it's "hard not to hate this guy" (the italics are hers).
In a post at his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft labeled Obama "tone deaf" for his statement.
And here's where it gets funny.
On the list of "Most Shameless Political Hacks in America," Fox News political analyst and former Bush adviser Karl Rove certainly ranks near the top.
In recent years, when he hasn't been rewriting history to shelter his former boss from any responsibility for the current state of the country or forwarding the GOP Smear of the Day, Rove has spent much of his time attacking Obama and Democrats for doing precisely the types of things the Bush administration and Republicans did during Bush's tenure in the White House.
It's a sad commentary on the state of Fox News that someone with Rove's storied history of dishonesty has seemingly emerged as a voice of reason at the network.
On Friday night, Rove went on Greta Van Susteren's show and labeled Donald Trump a "joke candidate" who is "off there in the nutty right" due to his "full embrace of the birther issue." Rove's harsh words place him at odds with several of his Fox colleagues.
For a nice contrast, watch some of the interview that Sean Hannity conducted with Trump that aired on Hannity just before Rove's interview with Greta, during which Hannity helped Trump promote his birtherism. Hannity later attributed Trump's popularity to his "torpedos of truth" and the fact that Trump is taking on "controversial issues." He also aired graphics like this one during his show:
Hannity certainly hasn't been alone in his Trump boosterism at Fox. This morning, during Trump's regular Monday segment on Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy dipped his toe into the birther swamp by saying that Obama "could end" birtherism "simply" by releasing his birth certificate.
Fox's senior vice president of business news Neil Cavuto has defended Trump as a serious presidential candidate and declared that "we could do worse." Cavuto thinks Trump "talks like a boxer" and is "frank."
During an appearance on Fox & Friends Saturday this morning, Fox News host and putative Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was asked about Donald Trump's soaring poll numbers and Karl Rove's comments on Greta Van Susteren's show last night that Trump is a "joke candidate":
Setting aside the ethical problems inherent in Fox News hosting one of their own employees to discuss the poll numbers of one of his potential GOP primary opponents, Huckabee's comments about Trump's birtherism are notable. According to Huckabee, who doesn't "think the birther issue is a good issue" and doesn't "agree with it," people aren't "rallying behind Donald Trump because of the birther issue."
But the PPP poll that Huckabee and the Fox crew were discussing tells a different story.
According to PPP's write-up, "only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory." Among that 38%, Trump polls third (with 17%) behind both Romney and Huckabee.
Trump's numbers are considerably better among those who are "not sure" whether they could support someone who outright rejects birtherism, and soar among the 23% of GOP primary voters who say they are only willing to vote for a birther. Among the latter group, Trump's support hits 37%, nearly 24 points higher than the 2nd place finishers (Huckabee and Palin in a tie).
While Trump's birtherism doesn't explain his entire appeal to GOP primary voters, it certainly seems to help him immensely. And Huckabee's own network - and Sean Hannity in particular - has played a large role in promoting Trump and moving the inane, discredited birther conspiracy from chain emails and WorldNetDaily articles into the Republican mainstream.
When walking infomercial Dick Morris visited Florida last October, he reportedly said that GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott "is a criminal who belongs in jail not the governor's office." Asked about Scott's opponent, Alex Sink, Morris reportedly said "She's a terrible candidate... her opponent is a criminal."
As reported by The Hill, Morris also told conservative magazine NewsMax last July that Scott is "not the tea party candidate" because he "fleeced and robbed the federal government and the taxpayers." He added that "the only way" Scott is "qualified to be governor is that he's very experienced -- he stole from the taxpayers once, so he's really experienced, and he'll steal from them again."
But that was months ago, long before Morris had a new book to sell about how to "translate this avalanche of votes" for the GOP in the 2010 election "into power and action in Washington."
In a post on his blog hawking his latest book, Morris listed Scott among the "reform Governors" who are "leading a movement for fundamental change in America."
Morris also listed Scott among his chosen "courageous governors" in his column outlining the "GOP's budget dream team" for The Hill this week.
What a difference a few months (and a new book) make.
This morning, Fox & Friends hosted "renowned Christian minister and author" John Hagee to promote his latest book and discuss, in host Gretchen Carlson's words, if America "is heading to a disaster it cannot survive."
Carlson interviewed Hagee for several minutes about Israel and the national debt, while chyrons like "On The Path To Disaster: Geopolitical & Economical [sic] Storms Brewing" appeared on-screen.
At the end of the segment, Carlson plugged Hagee's book, Can America Survive?, as "great" and said to him that "you also touch on the religion in your book."
"Touch on the religion" doesn't quite cover it.
As we detailed last year when Glenn Beck plugged Hagee's book (note: Hagee was appearing today to promote the "updated" version), Can America Survive? is about how the world is fast-approaching Biblical Armageddon. Hagee buttresses his hypothesis with flimsy interpretations of "Bible prophecy," and writes that the global economic crisis will be hastened by the sudden Rapture of billions of Christians, which will pave the road for the arrival of the Antichrist.