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What Is WorldNetDaily Hiding?

WorldNetDaily won't subject itself to the transparency it demands from Barack Obama regarding his birth certificate.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/30/2009
Updated 7/5/2009

As the saying goes: When you have nothing to hide, you hide nothing. By that standard, WorldNetDaily is clearly hiding something.

WND's desperate campaign to demand that Barack Obama prove he's a "natural born citizen" -- even though he already has -- is one long trail of falsehoods presented as facts, dishonesty about its agenda, and a lack of transparency about its own actions.

As ConWebWatch has already detailed, to make the claims it makes now, WND must contradict its own original reporting on the subject, which asserted that the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign in mid-2008 is "authentic" and that a lawsuit filed by Philip Berg on the matter in part "relies on discredited claims." WND has never retracted this article, yet WND editor Joseph Farah has falsely claimed that WND never made the assertions it contains.

But that's not the only thing WND is curiously afraid to tell its readers about. Among the others:

Who signed WND's petition?

WND claims, as of last check, more than 385,000 signatures on a petition "demanding that the constitutional eligibility requirement be taken seriously and that any and all controlling legal authorities in this matter examine the complete birth certificate of Barack Obama, including the actual city and hospital of birth, and make that document available to the American people for inspection." But WND has never disclosed those signatures, has never provided any outside verification of the number of signatures, and has never demonstrated the existence of any mechanism to verify the signatures themselves -- that they belong to voting-age American citizens whose names are not duplicated within the petition (Update: Indeed, one blogger reported signing the petition 44 times). After all, if WND is demanding proof of American citizenship from Obama, shouldn't it be demanding the same of those who sign the petition?

Who's donating to WND's billboard campaign?

In May, WND began soliciting donations for a billboard campaign containing the statement, "Where's the Birth Certificate?" A May 20 WND article stated that Farah was calling it "the truth and transparency campaign" -- a laughable statement given WND's reluctance to engage in either. ConWebWatch asked WND if it would honor the "spirit of disclosure" it was demanding from Obama by disclosing the donors to the billboard campaign. Farah responded (boldface his):

Our demand on Obama has nothing to do with a "spirit of disclosure," though Obama has pledged to run the most open and transparent administration in American history. The Constitution requires a president to be a natural born citizen. That same Constitution also provides that ordinary American citizens the right to spend their money any way they want without fear of harassment from government officials.

If you need any more civics lesson, please feel free to call on me.

Farah did not explain why the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign -- which his own reporters have determined to be "authentic" -- fails as sufficient proof of being a "natural born citizen" when even the right-wing FrontPageMag has pointed out that it is "the same document that anyone born in Hawaii shows when applying for a drivers’ license, social security card, passport, or security clearance. It was also accepted as valid by the election officials of the 50 states."

Farah also fails to explain what credibility such a secretive organization has in demanding transparency of another. But such opaqueness has long been a hallmark of WND; in 2006, WND failed to respond to a request by ConWebWatch to disclose the donors to its legal defense fund and an accounting of how that money was spent. This was at a time that WND was fighting a libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones -- a lawsuit it settled two years later by admitting that it published false claims about Jones. WND has never explained why it fought Jones' lawsuit for seven years and settled only when the case was set to go to trial, why it made no effort to verify the claims it made about Jones (or any other claim in the multi-part series attacking Al Gore) before publication, or whether it has made an effort to fact-check other claims in that series given the tainted nature of those stories.

Why won't WND address the repeated debunkings of its birth certificate-related claims?

The aforementioned FrontPageMag article, an April 1 piece by Andrew Walden, unambiguously asserted: "Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i, August 4, 1961 at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu. Obama’s birth certificate posted online is exactly the same birth certificate everybody in Hawaii gets from the State Department of Health. It is not forged." Walden went on to state:

For Obama to have been born in Kenya, Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr. would have had to fly from Honolulu to Mombasa, give birth in a substandard third world hospital, fly back and then somehow arrange for a fraudulent birth certificate to be entered by the State of Hawai'i on August 8, 1961 (at the time governed by Republican William Quinn). They would have also somehow planted the phony birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser (at the time edited by Republican Thurston Twigg-Smith) and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawai'i’s current Republican Governor Linda Lingle would also have to be complicit in the cover-up as would all of the leftist 1960s University of Hawaii friends of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr—among them US Rep Neil Abercrombie.

Walden even called out WorldNetDaily for getting facts wrong:

Since Hawai'i law forbids the release of birth certificates to anybody not authorized by Barack Obama or his family, Obama further feeds the paranoia by choosing not to grant such permissions. A World Net Daily story claiming Hawai'i’s Republican Governor Linda Lingle ‘sealed’ the birth certificate is totally false. The governor’s office has asked for a retraction.

Walden blows his credibility somewhat, however, by going on to claim that right-wing obsession over the birth certificate is exactly what Obama wants:

By refusing media requests for a look at the actual paper birth certificate, Obama’s campaign gave sly backhanded assistance to the forgery hype. The internet release of the birth certificate via hyper-partisan website Daily Kos on June 12 before posting it on a campaign website was likely calculated to fuel the frenzy. This is Obama’s Gramscian strategy designed to redirect the opposition down a blind alley.


Obama benefits from creating an opposition which seems to be standing by the side of the road impotently pointing to a piece of paper as if it could stop 63 million voters from anointing their ‘chosen one’. Birth certificate lawsuit plaintiff Phil Berg is a Democrat and whether he understands it or not, he has done great work on behalf of his party.

It is time for folks to stop being played by the Obama campaign and drop this counter productive ‘phony birth certificate’ nonsense.

As the Huffington Post's Jason Linkins put it, Walden is "substituting an utterly insane conspiracy theory with a thunderously obtuse one."

Walden might not be a fan of the birth certificate conspiracy, but he has been a promoter of other Obama conspiracies: Accuracy in Media has reprinted Walden's purported exposure of "the Frank Marshall Davis network in Hawaii,"and AIM's Cliff Kincaid has approvingly cited Walden's work of examining "Davis’s Sex Rebel book." And in an April 28 FrontPageMag article, Walden baselessly suggested that Obama is behind the efforts of "Iraqi-British ex-Baathist billionaire" Nadhmi Auchi (who has links to Tony Rezko and thus, according to right-wing guilt-by-association reasoning, to Obama himself, though the only evidence Walden to that effect is that they purportedly met once at a party) to squelch criticism of him by Walden and others by threatening to file libel lawsuits in British courts, where the libel threshold is lower than in the U.S. The article carries the headline "Obama's Chilling Crew" -- which also appears on the version of the article on Walden's own website, Hawaii Free Press -- which creates the baseless suggestion that Obama is funding or somehow supporting Auchi's efforts, something Walden for provides no evidence.

Walden's complaint seems to boil down to that the birth certificate conspiracy is drawing attention away from his own Obama conspiracies.

FrontPageMag isn't the only one shooting down WND's birth certificate-related claims en masse. A Dec. 4, 2008, Slate article by David Wiegel describes birthers like Farah and WND as attempting "to overturn presidential results by any means necessary" and shoots down two significant claims, that the certificate released by Obama's campaign is a forgery and that Obama's grandmother confirmed that Obama was born in Kenya -- both of which were advanced at WND.

Even though both articles address numerous claims that have been made in numerous WND articles, WND has yet to even mention the existence of these articles, let alone substantively rebut them. What is WND afraid of? If WND won't defend the claims it has made, can we therefore interpret that those claims are indefensible?

What's WND's relationship with Orly Taitz? Why won't WND tell the truth about Taitz or the intra-birther lawsuit?

ConWebWatch has detailed the close relationship between WND and Taitz -- not only has WND supplied Taitz with copies of the petition signatures it refuses to make public (which Taitz then foisted upon Chief Justice John Roberts during a speech in Idaho), WND has published a sycophantic profile of her and Farah has drooled, " I have to tell you, this lady is rapidly becoming one of my heroes."

Conspicuously absent from WND, meanwhile, is any mention of her recent troubles.

In April, a formal complaint was filed in the California bar against Taitz. Among the allegations in the complaint:

  • Taitz is indiscriminately hurled charges of treason and called for an armed revolt against the federal government.
  • She actively recruited clients in a state where she is not licensed to practice law.
  • She has repeatedly disrespected judges and officers of the court.
  • She has made false and misleading claims in court filings.
  • She has not properly accounted for money she has raised to further her crusade.

The complaint has been filed anonymously, the author claims, due to Taitz's history of retaliating against her critics.

Further, Philip Berg -- the same person whose legal actions over the birth certificate WND first endeavored to shoot down until it decided that they served its anti-Obama agenda -- filed a lawsuit against Taitz in April, accusing her and various associates of "harassing" Berg and fellow plaintiffs (among them Taitz's former webmaster), and filing "falsified police and law enforcement reports" regarding her claims against the former webmaster. Berg noted in his filing that "Taitz is no stranger to falsifying stories and falsely claiming to be the victim of 'hacking' of her websites" and accuses Taitz of plagiarizing the briefs he filed in his birth certificate-related actions for her own filings. Berg also claimed that an investigator working for Taitz dug up alleged information about an employee of Berg's and "sent the information to Taitz and a reporter with World Net Daily" complete with the employee's full Social Security number, which neither the investigator nor Taitz had "permissible purpose to obtain."

(WND had previously uncritically reported Taitz's allegations against her former webmaster, Lisa Ostella. In the April 20 article, Chelsea Schilling failed to offer the other side of the story, claiming that "Ostella did not respond to WND's request for comment" -- even though Ostella's response to Taitz was available on her blog and Schilling could have easily been copied-and-pasted it into the article.)

The Berg lawsuit, meanwhile, descended into a comedy of errors on Taitz's part. As the Yes to Democracy blog reported, Taitz was to file her response to Berg's claims electronically by May 26 (Memorial Day, a holiday). Instead, Taitz filed paper copies that did not arrive until the day after the deadline. Berg then sought an entry of default against Taitz, which the court granted.

WND has refused to report on either the complaint or the lawsuit. The silence could be interpreted as speaking volumes, since at the same time WND appears to have stopped promoting Taitz -- WND hasn't featured any claim made by Taitz since May 9.

If the complaint and the Berg lawsuit have combined to break off WND's BFF relationship with Taitz, doesn't WND have a duty to inform its readers about it? Apparently, WND believes it has no such responsibility.

Why won't WND pay $10,000 to Sarah Obama?

Farah announced on June 22 that he was offering "a $10,000 reward to anyone who can prove he or she was present at the birth of Barack Obama." So why hasn't he sent one to Sarah Obama?

WND has repeatedly asserted that Sarah Obama, Barack Obama's paternal grandmother, witnessed Barack's birth in Kenya. Even the article touting Farah's reward makes that claim.

If Sarah Obama's claim is good enough for WND news stories, why isn't Jerome Corsi making another trip to Kenya to personally hand over a wad of cash to Sarah Obama? Because, it seems, that Farah has a higher standard of accuracy when his own money (near as we can tell) is on the line as opposed to what's left of WND's journalistic reputation.

The article went on to state:

To collect the reward, the subject must:
1. Agree to an interview with WND journalists;

2. Provide persuasive evidence, such as pictures, documents or verifiable details;

3. Agree to a polygraph test.

WND has never demanded such documentation before. Further, there's a subtext here : By not handing over cash to Sarah Obama after repeatedly reporting the claim she is purported to have made, WND is tacitly admitting that it can't prove the claim at all.

That's because it's not true. As ConWebWatch has detailed, the claim rests on a selectively edited transcript and confused translators.

If WND can't prove Sarah Obama's purported claim to the point that it will pay her $10,000, why does it insist on repeatedly asserting that she made such a claim?

Why does WND think it can lie to its readers about Obama?

ConWebWatch has documented 23 falsehoods WND has published -- sometimes repeatedly -- about Obama, some of which involve claims surrounding the birth certificate. Not only has WND yet to correct any of those falsehoods, it invents new ones.

One of those newly invented lies came in a June 15 column by Farah, in which he asserted that Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, "was too young to have qualified under the law for bestowing that privilege on her son, even if the father had been a citizen and even in the unlikely event Obama was actually born in Hawaii!" But like so many other claims WND has made about Obama, that claim has been discredited. From the Tribune Co. Washington Bureau blog The Swamp:

Hawaii was a state in 1961, when Obama was born. Any person born in the U.S. automatically is a "natural born citizen," said University of California Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh.

Even if a person is born outside the United States, courts have ruled any child born to at least one U.S. citizen is a U.S. citizen, Volokh said. Stanley Ann Dunham would have counted even if Obama's Kenyan father did not.

If this becomes an issue in a post-election eligibility challenge, expect a likely sticking point to be the legal definition in 1961 of how parents could be called U.S. citizens for this purpose, Volokh said. At the time Obama was born, the law stated that a person would be considered a "natural born citizen" if either parent was a citizen who had lived at least 10 years in the U.S., including five years after the age of 14--in other words, 19.

Dunham was three months shy of her 19th birthday when Obama was born. But subsequent acts of Congress relaxed the requirement to five years in the U.S., including just two years after the age of 14, meaning Dunham could have been 16 and still qualified even if Obama was born in another country, Volokh said. Congress made the law retroactive to 1952, doubly covering Obama.

(Farah thought so much of this bogus claim that he repeated it in his June 17 column.)

Farah also claimed that a statement on Obama's "Fight the Smears" website contains an "amazing admission." That excerpt, taken from a article to which Farah curiously fails to link, states:

“When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.‘s children.

Since Sen. Obama has neither renounced his U.S. citizenship nor sworn an oath of allegiance to Kenya, his Kenyan citizenship automatically expired on Aug. 4,1982.”

Note that it specifically states Obama held U.S. citizenship at the time he held Kenyan citizenship as a child -- something Farah failed to acknowledge, since that inconvenient fact would destroy the argument he's trying to make. Since Farah deprived his readers of a direct link to the FactCheck article, his readers don't know that it did not dispute the fact that Obama is, and always has been, a U.S. citizen.

Further, at no point does Farah offer evidence to prove his larger argument --that Obama holding dual citizenship as a child, or having one parent who was not an American citizen, fails to fulfill the "natural born citizen" requirement of the Constitution for presidential eligibility.

* * *

If WND's anti-Obama birth certificate crusade is known for anything, it's a record of false claims, refusal to report relevant facts, and a lack of full disclosure about its agenda. Its refusal to answer such basic questions, be honest with the public and provide verifiable proof of the claims its makes only heighten the secrecy WND has chosen to surround itself with.

Throughout all of this, WND has demonstrated that it does indeed have something to hide -- the truth. If it tells the truth, it is exposed as the liar it is, and the credibility of Farah's baby is destroyed once and for all.

In the face of utter humiliation, is it any wonder that Farah and WND have chosen to lie and mislead -- which will ultimately lead them down the same path to humiliation anyway?

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