Special Report is Fox News' premier "straight news" show. It airs in the evening news hour, at 6 p.m. Eastern, and it's anchored by Bret Baier. From what he's said publicly, it's clear that Baier expects the show to be taken seriously.
On Friday night, Baier managed to do an entire segment on a court ruling in the birthers' never-ending legal campaign without actually mentioning that President Obama is, in fact, a citizen of the United States.
Baier's tease for the segment seemed to be almost purposely misleading:
BAIER: If you think the controversy over President Obama's birth certificate has ended, think again. That's next in the Grapevine.
In the segment itself, Baier mentioned that the White House released Obama's long-form birth certificate last year, but then, incredibly, he contrasted that fact with the birthers' arguments: "However, [Orly] Taitz, along with many others in the so-called birther movement, is still not satisfied. Some in that movement call it a fake. Others say the real issue is that he's not a natural-born citizen."
BAIER: And now, some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine. A state judge in Georgia has denied a motion by the Obama administration to dismiss a complaint challenging the president's eligibility to be on the ballot there. Attorney Orly Taitz filed the complaint back in November on behalf of a Georgia resident, contending President Obama is not a natural-born citizen and therefore should not be on the March presidential primary in Georgia.
You will remember last year, the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate. However, Taitz, along with many others in the so-called birther movement, is still not satisfied. Some in that movement call it a fake. Others say the real issue is that he's not a natural-born citizen. A hearing has now been set for January 26. The president's lawyer in Atlanta says he's optimistic the judge will decide in the president's favor.
To those who say this is an empty criticism because, by this point, everybody already knows that Obama is a citizen, I say: nonsense. Fox viewers have been inundated with misleading coverage on birther conspiracy theories.
During the height of the Donald Trump-inspired birther frenzy last spring, Fox News promoted the myth in at least 52 segments over the course of about two months. In 44 of those segments, the myth went unchallenged.
Fox has aired conspiracy theories about Obama's long-form birth certificate as well.
If Obama's citizenship is an open question in the minds of Fox viewers, there's a reason for that.
Setting aside discussion of whether it makes sense for a national evening news program to be covering the minutiae of birther court proceedings, there is a simple, correct way to address this issue.
Allow Baier's colleague Shepard Smith to demonstrate:
SMITH: Well, he has produced a birth certificate. It shows his mother gave birth to him in Hawaii. It is stamped and sealed by the state of Hawaii. It is confirmed, and Fox News can confirm the president of the United States is a citizen of the United States, period.
That was Smith, two days before the White House released the long-form birth certificate.
Smith was able to make such an unequivocal statement because in June 2008, Obama's presidential campaign released a "certification of live birth." As FactCheck.org noted, it "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship."
This conversation has been over for a long time.