Fox & Friends: A Loving Home For The Right's Craziest Conspiracy Theories
Research ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN & MELODY JOHNSON
Fox & Friends invited conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill to push his insane theory that Bill Ayers ghostwrote Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father. Fox & Friends has an extensive history of pushing right-wing conspiracy theories and hosting discredited guests to back up their outrageous claims.
"Let's Say Bill Ayers Did Write That Book": Fox & Friends Pushes Absurd Theory That Ayers Ghostwrote Obama's Book
Fox & Friends Finds Fact In Ayers' "Joke" About Ghostwriting Obama's Book. During the March 29 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts aired a segment in which they showed Bill Ayers making a sarcastic remark regarding the conspiracy theory that he ghostwrote Obama's 1995 book, Dreams from My Father. After airing a clip of Ayers' sarcastic comment, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, "Was it a joke, or was he being serious?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]
Fox & Friends Hosts Jack Cashill To Promote Book, Push Ghostwriter Theory. The co-hosts then used Ayers' remark to launch an interview with WorldNetDaily columnist and noted conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill. During the segment, Cashill pushed his theory that Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, was written by Ayers. Carlson not only promoted Cashill's conspiracy-laden book, but also encouraged his theory, speculating, "Let's say Bill Ayers did write that book." Co-host Steve Doocy later asked Cashill, "Why isn't the mainstream media touching this with a 10-foot pole?" From the broadcast:
CARLSON: So, when you hear that - it's not the first time that Bill Ayers has done this. Is it a joke, or is he being serious?
CASHILL: It's a joke, but the joke is on the White House. This is the third time he's done it, but it's the first time he did it on camera. He knew the camera was pointed at him, and he did it at a particularly critical time. And that is when we're going to launch a military attack on Libya, which he is not at all pleased with, nor is the hard left. And in a sense, I think it's a shot across the president's bow. I think he's saying, hey, I know something about you, and I'm prepared to talk about it if you don't play ball with me.
DOOCY: And Jack, do you have any doubt in your mind whether or not the president of the United States wrote his book?
CASHILL: I have no doubt that Bill Ayers was the primary craftsman behind Dreams From My Father, and an interesting twist on this, too, is that earlier in that clip, he disassociates himself from the second book, Audacity of Hope, which he says was a hack political book -- and it was, it was written by committee. And --
DOOCY: Right. But, Jack, how can you -- I mean, that's very damning to say that somebody else wrote the president's book. You have any evidence?
CASHILL: Oh, I have a ton of evidence. It's all between the pages of my book, Deconstructing Obama, and when you see it all accumulated, Steve, when you see chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter, the textural evidence is so powerful it's undeniable. And then there was also the confirmation by Christopher Andersen in his book Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, and he has no skin in that game.
CARLSON: Let me ask you this, Jack. So let's say Bill Ayers did write that book.
CARLSON: Why do we -- why does it matter? And I know that you also believe that if he did, some of the stories are not exactly truthful, and how does that play into everything?
CASHILL: Well, first of all, it matters because the whole myth of Obama's literary genius is built around the book Dreams from My Father, and that's taken away. It also throws into doubt Obama's ability to tell the truth, because he said he scarcely knew this guy. It also puts the, you know, a terrorist wandering around in the head of Barack Obama.
But what's even more important is that the story they tell in the book Dreams from My Father is contrived to a large degree. And they, you know, Obama, Ayers, slash admits as much, especially about the first two years of Obama's life. What we know for a fact is that there was no Obama family. That he and his mother lived in the state of Washington the first year of his life while Barack Sr. was back in Hawaii. When the family returns to Hawaii, he's gone. Barack Sr. is gone to Harvard. The whole fabricated family life is -- does not exist.
DOOCY: Jack, why isn't the mainstream media touching this with a 10-foot pole?
CASHILL: They're afraid of this story. I mean, because they have so much vested interest in, you know, upholding the Obama agenda. Not only that, but in, they put up so much personal emotional equity in Obama's genius. There's a lot of very smart literary people who should have seen this on the first read of Dreams from My Father, and they didn't. It's transparent he's not a writer. There's no paper trail before this book, and what paper trail there is shows him to be like a C-minus student in a freshman comp class. You don't go from that to writing the best-produced, best-written memoir ever by an American literary figure.
CARLSON: Well, if you want to know more about these claims, check out Jack Cashill's book, Deconstructing Obama. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/29/11]
Fox & Friends Hosted Conspiracy Author Aaron Klein To Push Obama-Bashing Book. During the May 24, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, WorldNetDaily writer Aaron Klein used a guest appearance to plug his new book, which is full of baseless conspiracy theories. Klein's book includes a chapter titled, "Did Ayers ghostwrite Obama's 'best-written' memoir?" in which he claimed that "Weather Underground terrorist" Bill Ayers "may have ghostwritten most of" Obama's Dreams from My Father." [Media Matters, 5/24/10]
"Educated In A Madrassa": Fox & Friends Pushes Fringe Theory That Obama Was "Raised As A Muslim" In "A Madrassa"
InsightMag.Com Baselessly Claimed Obama "Spent At Least Four Years In A So-Called Madrassa." On January 17, 2007, InsightMag.com published an article claiming that "researchers connected to" then-Sen. Hillary Clinton disclosed that Obama "spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia." The story claimed that "sources close to [a] background check," which was supposedly "conducted by researchers connected to Sen. Clinton," said that "[t]he idea is to show Obama as deceptive." These "sources" also speculated that the "the specific Madrassa Mr. Obama attended" might have taught "a Wahhabi doctrine that denies the rights of non-Muslims." The InsightMag.com story also noted that in each of his two books, Obama "mentions but does not expand on his Muslim background." The article cited only anonymous sources. By January 19, the story had been picked up by conservative media figures and given prominent play on major television networks, such as CNN Headline News and Fox News. [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
Doocy: "Why Didn't Anybody Ever Mention That [Obama] Was Raised ... As A Muslim And Was Educated In A Madrassa?" On January 19, 2007, the co-hosts of Fox & Friends First, a now-discontinued extension of Fox & Friends, devoted a segment to pushing InsightMag's baseless madrassa smear. The co-hosts presented the claim as fact, with Doocy asking, "Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised ... as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?" From a transcript of the show:
DOOCY: Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised -- spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father -- as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?
DOOCY: We should also point out that Barack Obama's father is the one who gave him the middle name of Hussein. And the thing about the madrassa, and you know, let's just be honest about this, in the last number of years, madrassas have been, we've learned a lot about them, financed by Saudis, they teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us. The big question is was that on the curriculum back then? Probably not, but it was a madrassa and the big question is whether or not any of these revelations about the fact that he was a Muslim -- right now I understand he does go to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, although not a regular parishioner -- but raised as a Muslim, went to a madrassa.
DOOCY: Is it ancient history or do you think madrassa matters. [phone ringing] Josh joins us from Colorado. Good morning to you Josh.
CALLER: What's up?
DOOCY: What do you think?
CALLER: I think that ultimately this will probably be one of the main reasons is he not elected.
DOOCY: Just the fact that his father was a Muslim, he was raised as a Muslim for awhile, and went to a madrassa school in Jakarta?
CALLER: Right. I mean, you think that would possibly give him better insight on the enemy, maybe he doesn't consider terrorists the enemy.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Well, we'll see about that. Yeah, Josh says that.
CALLER: Hi, good morning. Yes, I think it does matter. The fact that he omitted it must mean that he feels that somebody is going to have an opinion. And President Bush certainly comes under scrutiny, so why shouldn't he?
KILMEADE: Well, he didn't admit it. I mean that's the issue.
CARLSON: Well she said he didn't.
KILMEADE: Says he didn't come out, and I was over in Indonesia for five years, or roughly five years, went to a madrassa and there is some reports that Wahhabism was the curriculum there, which is a problem because they start with "We hate America" and work their way back from there.
DOOCY: Well, the way it was framed in one of his biographies, he said, "I was sent first," this is in Indonesia, "to a catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school." He doesn't say, "I went to a madrassa, where they taught Wahhabism." He simply says, "I went to a predominantly Muslim school."
CARLSON: Alright, Jim from Alabama, what do you think?
CARLSON: What do you think?
CALLER: I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to. [Laughter]
CARLSON: We want to be clear, too, that this isn't all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up. [ThinkProgress, 1/19/07]
Multiple Mainstream Media Outlets Debunk Madrassa Theory. Between January 19 and January 29, 2007, journalists and contributors for the The Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The New York Times, and even the conservative Washington Times debunked the claim that Obama was "educated in a madrassa." On January 19, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn pointed out that "the type of madrassas linked to the Taliban did not emerge until the Afghan war against the Soviets," which began 12 years after Obama lived in Indonesia, where he spent two years at a Catholic school and two at a Muslim school. A January 20, 2007, New York Post article quoted Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson saying, "We have no connection to this story," and further reported that Obama strategist David Axelrod said he did not "believe ... for a second" the allegation that Clinton's camp was behind the story. [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
Fox & Friends Issues A "Clarification" Of Their Original Madrassa Story. On January 22, 2007, Doocy noted that "Mr. Obama's people called and they said that [the madrassa story] is absolutely false." Kilmeade added that the Clinton camp had said, "We did not have anything to do with that story." [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
"He Is A Muslim, Potentially:" Fox & Friends Entertain Ludicrous Conspiracy Theory That Obama Is A Muslim
Kilmeade: "If [Obama] Was Worried" About People Thinking He's Muslim, "Wouldn't He Have Kept His Name As Barry And Not Barack?" During the August 30, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade asked, "If he was worried about [being associated with Islam], wouldn't he have kept his name as Barry and not Barack?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/30/10]
Fund: Obama "Bears Some Of The Responsibility For These Misconceptions." On the September 3, 2010, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund claimed that Obama "allowed his image to slip away from him," in part, by "not going to church, for example, regularly, by not joining a church." Fund concluded, "He bears some of the responsibility for these misconceptions." [Media Matters, 9/3/10]
Fox & Friends Guest Pamela Geller Attempts To Tie Obama To Radical Islam. During the June 28, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, conspiracy blogger Pamela Geller appeared as a guest. During her segment, she attempted to tie Obama to radical Islam. From the broadcast:
GELLER: There's a complicity by the media, there's a silence. People don't want to talk about it. And of course now, as outlined in my book, the Obama administration, which is so pro-Islam, there's certainly a reluctance to address the issue. When he was in Cairo, he equated the violation of women's rights in America to those in the Muslim world, and they're quite different. Women are very subjugated in the Muslim world.
ERIC BOLLING (guest host): Sharia law is -- you know, when Europe allowed Muslims in and to observe Sharia law, they opened up the can of worms there. Where are we in relationship to that? Have we allowed it? Have we embraced it? Are they actually starting to live by Sharia law within our own U.S. law?
GELLER: Well, you know, the Obama administration is very pro-Islam. When he was speaking in Cairo, he said he was going to make it safe in America for women to wear the hijab. It's not -- it's safe for America to wear the hijab -- for women to wear the hijab. But what about women like Rifqa Bary who don't want to wear the hijab?
A week after he nationalized some banks the US Treasury was giving seminars in Sharia finance. He said he wanted to open up Islamic charity for more, that we're holding back - now, we're not holding back Islamic charity. But we do know that, holding that terror trial, they use Islamic charities to fund jihad and terror. [Media Matters, 7/28/10]
Fox & Friends Hosts Push Use Of Obama's Middle Name To Ask If He Is "A Muslim, Potentially." During the February 27, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed right-wing radio host Bill Cunningham's use of Obama's middle name when he was introducing Obama's then-presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain, during a campaign rally. They defended Cunningham's actions, stating, "That's [Obama's] name." The hosts did not mention that Cunningham had previously referred to Obama as "Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama." From the broadcast:
CARLSON: Some people in the audience were like, "Ooh, I can't believe he's doing that." But again, the silent thing that nobody is really talking about here is the reason that he was saying the middle name so many times.
KILMEADE: Which is?
CARLSON: Hussein. Is because the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim, potentially? His father was a Muslim. And so the reason that John McCain would come out and apologize is because he does not want to be accused -- his camp does not want to be accused -- of fueling the rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
DOOCY: Right, and in fact, there's been some polling done, apparently, by the Republicans to figure out if Barack Hussein Obama -- now I'm using Bill Cunningham's expression -- were the candidate, or Hillary Rodham Clinton were the candidate, what it would be like to run against somebody like Barack or Hillary and all the dynamics. Now, here's the other thing at play, though. It's his name.
DOOCY: Why not use his name? It's his name.
CARLSON: I know. Exactly.
KILMEADE: It's not like you are knocking him with a nickname -- it's actually his name. [Media Matters, 2/27/08]
Going Birther: Fox & Friends Hosts Corsi And Trump To Claim Obama Was Not Born In The U.S.
Corsi: "The [Obama] Campaign Has A False, Fake Birth Certificate Posted On Their Website." On the August 15, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy interviewed conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi about his claim that the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign was "false" and "fake." In fact, the Hawaii Department of Health and numerous experts have confirmed the birth certificate released by the campaign is valid. During the interview, Doocy did not challenge Corsi's debunked claims and even went so far as to ask him, "[D]o you feel almost as if you yourself are being Swift Boated?" As Media Matters has documented, since 2008, Corsi has engaged in an obsessive campaign to prove that Obama was born in Kenya. From the August 15, 2008, show:
DOOCY: You were involved in the writing of the --
DOOCY: -- Swift Boat book --
CORSI: Absolutely. Right.
DOOCY: -- four years ago, and so a lot of people have suggested, well, the Obama campaign is not going to allow their candidate to get Swift Boated once again by this guy, and do you feel almost as if you yourself are being Swift Boated?
CORSI: Well, in a way, but I also think the Obama campaign is making the identical mistake as the Kerry campaign.
DOOCY: How so?
CORSI: Well, they started now calling me names and trying to get The New York Times to introduce me as a gadfly and try to get the AP to do press releases for them. You know, I couldn't find this 41-page report on the website until 1 a.m.
CORSI: And so now, I'm going to -- there's -- the substantive issues in here -- you know, they say I got incorrect the date of Senator Obama's marriage. Well, what would be really helpful is if Senator Obama would release primary documents like his birth certificate. The campaign has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. How is anybody supposed to really piece together his life?
DOOCY: What do you mean they have a "false birth certificate" on their website?
CORSI: The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it.
DOOCY: Well, couldn't it just be a State of Hawaii-produced duplicate?
CORSI: No, it's a -- there's been good analysis of it on the Internet, and it's been shown to have watermarks from Photoshop. It's a fake document that's on the website right now, and the original birth certificate the campaign refuses to produce. As I point out, you know, in Obama Nation, and by the way, I don't know what chapters in here the campaign is so afraid the people are going to read. They must be desperately afraid of this book. [Media Matters, 8/15/08; FactCheck.org, 8/21/08; Media Matters, 1/19/11]
Trump Tells Unquestioning Co-Hosts, "I'm Starting To Wonder ... Whether Or Not [Obama] Was Born In This Country." On the March 28, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, Donald Trump discussed comments he made several days earlier on ABC's The View, which included Trump's saying, "I want [Obama] to show his birth certificate." On Fox & Friends, Trump told the co-hosts, "I'm starting to wonder myself whether or not [Obama] was born in this country." From the show:
TRUMP: They asked John McCain for his birth certificate. They've asked others for their birth certificate. They asked Bush for his birth certificate, by the way. I just found out over the weekend. And they would ask me for my birth certificate and by the way, it's sitting on the top of my desk. They give you a certificate of live birth, which anybody can get, just walk into the hospital, and you get a certificate of live birth. It's not even signed by people.
TRUMP: Now, this guy either has a birth certificate or he doesn't. And I didn't think this was such a big deal, but I will tell you, it's turning out to be a very big deal because people now are calling me from all over saying, please don't give up on this issue. If you weren't born in this country, you cannot be president.
CARLSON: Do you think he was born in this country?
TRUMP: I am really concerned. And I will tell you, when this all started a week ago, I assumed, hey, look, you have no doctors that remember. You have no nurses -- this is the president of the United States -- that remember. That ad that was placed in the Houston paper, that was placed in the paper days after he was born.
TRUMP: So he could have come into the country, and they did it for social reasons they put it in. They did it for whatever reason.
TRUMP: There are a lot of reasons you could have put an ad in. But he could have been born outside of this country. Why can't he produce a birth certificate and by the way, there is one story that his family doesn't even know what hospital he was born in.
DOOCY: Yeah, I've heard that as well. Donald, before you go, what about the mainstream media counts of this dust up over the last week, where they're trying to paint you as, you know, the mayor of crazy town for bringing this up?
TRUMP: Well you know, it's amazing. I start off every time I talk about the birthers, I start off by saying, and it's very interesting, I was a great student at the best college in the country. You know? I want to let people know. I'm a smart guy. Because what they do to the birthers, and I don't even like the term, the birthers. I think it's unfair to them. These are people that want to see a birth certificate. They want to know that the president was born here.
CARLSON: But -- but, why would you go down this path, Donald? A lot of people were asking that question last week as well. Why would you decide to do this if, in fact, you decide to run for president?
TRUMP: Because if you're not born in the United States, you cannot be president. And, there is a real question. And if this birth certificate exists, you know what I get a kick out of? The governor of Hawaii says, "I remember when he was born 50 years ago." I doubt it. I think this guy should be investigated. I doubt it. He remembers when Obama was born? Give me a break. He's just trying to do something for his party. The fact is, if you're not born in the United States, you cannot be president. He is having a hard time -- he spent millions of dollars trying to get away from this issue, millions of dollars in legal fees trying to get away from this issue. And I'll tell you what, I brought it up just routinely and all of a sudden, a lot of facts are emerging, and I'm starting to wonder myself whether or not he was born in this country. [Media Matters, 3/28/11]
Fox & Friends Promotes LeBoutillier's False Claim That Obama's "Grandmother ... Has Claimed Consistently That He Was Born In Mombasa, Kenya." On the November 29, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, Fox & Friends hosted Newsmax contributor and apparent birther John LeBoutillier to promote his self-published "fact or fiction" novel about Obama. During his interview, he claimed that "Obama's grandmother ... has claimed consistently that he was born in Mombasa, Kenya. She said this, adamantly, on the record." In fact, as Media Matters has noted, the full interview in which Obama's stepgrandmother supposedly claimed that he was born in Kenya shows that she clearly and repeatedly said Obama was born in Hawaii. [Media Matters, 11/29/10]
*This item has been updated.