Yesterday marked the release of WorldNetDaily writer Jerome Corsi's latest book, Where's the Birth Certificate? A few short weeks ago, the book rode a wave of publicity from unscrupulous conservative websites like the Drudge Report and Fox Nation to #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. Led by Fox News, right-wing media outlets were embracing the birther canard at an ever-increasing pace.
Then it all fell apart.
In the intervening weeks, the birther "issue" has very publicly - and quite embarrassingly for prominent birthers like Corsi and former pretend presidential candidate Donald Trump - collapsed. Obama released his long-form birth certificate on April 27, demolishing the supposed impetus for Corsi's book and rendering it an amusing cultural artifact. In its published form, the book provides a glimpse into the fevered imaginations of some of the most prominent conspiracy theorists of the Obama era.
Corsi announces in his preface that he was writing the book "in the conviction that Obama has usurped the office of the presidency by waging a skillful public relations campaign to suppress his actual birth circumstances." Unfortunately for Corsi, that "conviction" turned out to be utterly, laughably false.
So, first things first: Where's The Birth Certificate?, Corsi asks in his book title. In the Foreword, WND CEO Joseph Farah repeats the question, saying that it has "dogged Obama throughout his term of office" and "may well cost him any chance for re-election in 2012."
Well, here it is:
WND's attempts to discredit Obama's long form birth certificate -- in the desperate hope that it will make Jerome Corsi's upcoming book, Where's the Birth Certificate?, somehow relevant -- have crossed the line from pathetic to hilarious.
Earlier this week, WND CEO Joseph Farah announced that he is persuaded that "the birth certificate released by Barack Obama's White House is fake, phony, a fraudulent forgery." Yesterday, he wrote: "It's about to get much worse for Obama. We are just days away from several more shoes dropping." He added that "we may be witnessing the final days of the Barack Obama regime."
If the most recent report by Corsi is any indication, Obama probably doesn't need to pack up his desk any time soon.
Last night, Corsi published an article about how the supposed "growing list of apparent anomalies" in Obama's long-form certificate "continues to fuel suspicion that the document is a crude, computer-generated forgery."
The latest "anomaly" is a supposed "typographical error" used in the Hawaii Department of Health stamp on Obama's long-form. Take us away, Jerome [note: some of WND's images have been resized to fit Media Matters' site -- originals here]:
WorldNetDaily continues to set the stage for the release of Jerome Corsi's sure-to-be comedy classic, Where's the Birth Certificate?, with a series of articles desperately trying to cast doubt on Obama's citizenship. Today's offering from Aaron Klein, posted with the headline "Bombshell: U.S. government questioned Obama citizenship," alleges that the "U.S. government is on record questioning President Obama's citizenship status as early as when he was 5 years old, stating it lacked documentation to determine his citizenship."
Both the headline and the lead paragraph, however, are wildly misleading -- as Klein later notes (buried at the end of the article) the U.S. government also answered these questions "on record" by definitively stating that Obama "is a United States citizen by virtue of his birth in Honolulu, Hawaii, Aug. 4, 1961." Bombshell!
Surprise! Ten days after President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah declared last night that his crackpot website will "be presenting what I believe is compelling new evidence that Obama is not only ineligible to be president, but that the document released by the White House is fraudulent." Oh, good. This should prove to be a scholarly exercise.
WND literally cannot accept that Obama was definitively born in the U.S. and is eligible to be president for a simple reason: money. They've built much of their Obama-era business model around questioning Obama's birth certificate and eligibility. (You can still prove to your neighbors you are incapable of critical thinking with your very own "Where's the Birth Certificate?" lawn sign, t-shirt, or bumper sticker.)
Jerome Corsi's WND-published new book, Where's the Birth Certificate?, is set for release next week. Obama releasing his long-form a few short weeks before the book's release put WND in a somewhat awkward position, but they are undeterred. In an attempt to make the release of this book less outwardly hilarious -- and in lieu of adding the subtitle "Oh, There It Is" -- the crew at WND is going all in and declaring that Obama's long-form is a forgery.
Farah's latest column, headlined "The birth certificate debate -- it's not over," essentially gives the Cliff's Notes version of Corsi's two latest stories. Farah concludes that the supposed birther cover-up "could make Watergate pale by comparison."
According to Farah, the pencil marks on Obama's long-form birth certificate are "the very same tell-tale scribblings found in a clearly fraudulent document posted on the Internet about a year ago -- a document that alleged he was born in Kenya." This proves... something? Even Farah's not entirely sure, but he is asking for "some viable explanation other than the two documents were created by the same forger." That must be it, Joseph.
It would be tedious and probably pointless to assess their latest "evidence" in detail, but just to get an idea of how far past the bottom of the barrel the birthers have now scraped, here's a small sample:
Yesterday, noted conspiracist, Islamophobe, and Fox Business regular Pam Geller forwarded an explosive allegation: that the military had "overruled" President Obama's order to abort the Osama bin Laden kill mission. As we detailed, Geller is so committed to trying to make Obama look bad that she was willing to casually accuse the military of essentially committing sedition. (Geller later updated with a second story that contradicted the details of the first.)
Her source for the allegation and the update was an anonymous writer named "Ulsterman," who regularly posts articles at "NewsFlavor" and other sites with user-submitted content. Ulsterman can be found tackling tough issues like whether Julia Roberts has gotten a "boob job" or if "a few more pizzas really account for the considerable increase in her breast size." Of more interest, however, are Ulsterman's series of "interviews" with a "long time D.C. insider" making fantastical allegations about the goings-on in the Obama administration.
Ulsterman's interviews with the "White House Insider" don't pass the smell test.
Last night on Fox Business, Eric Bolling hosted Pamela Geller to discuss in all seriousness whether Obama's long-form birth certificate was "photoshopped." Geller has been making a fool of herself over Obama's birth certificate for three years now, alleging that Obama's certificate of live birth was a "forgery" that previously belonged to a "female." Nonetheless, Bolling apparently thought she was an important voice to include last night.
After pointing at a blown-up version of Obama's long-form certificate and discussing whether the borders were "Photoshopped," Bolling concluded that "it may or may not be, but it certainly opens up the can of worms that there are at least questions."
Here's an example of the kinds of "questions" Bolling now has. After noting that the doctor that signed the birth certificate had "passed away," Bolling pointed out that the doctor's wife and son both were unaware that he had delivered President Obama. Bolling asked: "If you gave birth to the president of the United States, don't you think your family would know about it?"
The doctor died in 2003.
Let that sink in for a second.
At the time, Barack Obama was a little-known state senator in Illinois. If the doctor had told his family before he died that he delivered the future president, that would have spawned a much more interesting conspiracy theory (he's a wizard!). Apparently Eric Bolling thinks obstetricians give their families a list of the most interesting people they delivered -- with a special section for "potential future presidents" -- before they die.
Stop digging, Bolling. You're embarrassing yourself.
"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.