ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

WorldNetDaily's Birther Blackout

WND doesn't want its readers to know about any evidence that contradicts its increasingly discredited conspiracies about President Obama's "eligibility."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/2/2012
Updated 8/27/2012

WorldNetDaily keeps an archive of virtually all of the stories it has published on Barack Obama's "eligibility" to be president.

There are things you won't find in that archive, however: any reference to how WND's birther obsession has become increasingly discredited, or any accounting of the machinations WND itself has engaged in to keep this manufactured controversy alive.

Over the past several months, WND has hidden from its readers information that call its own reporting into question. Here are some of the issues WND has ignored.

Zullo's coding error

During Cold Case Posse chief Mike Zullo's July 17 press conference to announce the latest findings from his so-called investigation, he touted one item he purported to be a bombshell regarding handwritten codes on Obama's long-form birth certificate, as WND reported:

The codes seen on the document issued by the White House are not consistent with the information entered into the various fields, indicating the document has been altered or amended.

In the coding system, the number 9 indicates the information is not stated, meaning there should not be any information in the box in which the number is written.

However, the number 9 can be seen written in pencil next to the fields for “Usual Occupation,” “Kind of Business or Industry” and “Race of Father” on Obama’s document. Each of those fields are filled with information.

“This proves the document has been tampered with and information has been placed on it,” Zullo said.

In fact, according to the Obama Conspiracy site, Zullo is citing a coding system established in 1968, which would not apply to a birth certificate from 1961. The coding system at that time defined the number 9 as "other nonwhite." Given that the number was found in the box for the race of Obama's father, this may explain why his race is listed as "African" -- it may be nothing more than a 50-year-old misguided notion that a black man from Africa was not a "Negro."

Birther debunker John Woodman has since reported that, based on another 1961-era birth certificate, Hawaii apparently used a coding system tailored to that state in which accounted for parents who had Hawaiian heritage, something the coding system Zullo claims applied in 1961 does not do -- thus disproving Zullo's coding assertions even further.

Not only has WND not mentioned Zullo's falsehoods, WND reporter Aaron Klein failed to bring it up while interviewing him about the coding system and other birther issues on the July 22 edition of his WABC radio show.

John Woodman's book

John Woodman is a computer expert who in 2011 published a book called "Is Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate a Fraud?" In it, he "investigates more than 30 different theories concerning the certificate," including layers and birth certificate numbering. His conclusion:

None of the claims either of forgery or that two citizen parents are required for natural-born citizenship stand up to scrutiny. Neither has anyone brought forth any persuasive evidence at all that Mr. Obama was born in any location other than that claimed by Mr. Obama and the State of Hawaii.

Therefore, despite the numerous claims of “birthers,” there is simply no good reason at this time for anybody to believe that Barack Obama is in any way ineligible to the Presidency. This says nothing at all about whether or not he is a good President. But I personally have not the slightest doubt that the man is legally eligible to the office.

WND has refused to acknowledge the existence of Woodman's book, not even to rebut its claims -- indeed, even Woodman's name remains unmentioned at WND months after the book came out.

Social Security fraud debunked

WND has long promoted the idea that Obama is using a fraudulent Social Security number, with the main claim being that the prefix of Obama's number is normally associated with residents of Connecticut, somewhere Obama has never lived. A related claim touted by WND is that the number Obama used was "initially assigned to an elderly individual born in 1890 who resided in Connecticut."

But those assertions were shot down by an unlikely source: Phil Berg, an attorney whose lawsuits were key to launching the birther movement WND eventually latched onto. In a December 2011 post on his website, Berg detailed his evidence that the person born in 1890 had a Social Security number completely different from Obama's. He also pointed out that "The state and/or office that issued a Social Security number and/or card is not always the same as where the person the number being assigned to resides."

This does not make Berg any less of a birther -- he still insists that "not Constitutionally Eligible to serve as President of the United States due to his lack of being a “Natural Born” United States Citizens as a result of him being born in Kenya and his mother not being old enough to confer Natural Born citizenship status upon him and his Adoption / Acknowledgment by Lolo Soetoro in the Country of Indonesia, making Obama a/k/a Barry Soetoro an Indonesian Citizen."

Still, you'd think that such compelling information by an ally would be significant enough for WND to report. But it hasn't.

Sequencing issues debunked

WND actually debunked one birther conspiracy -- but it did so by accident, and when it realized what it had done, the evidence was covered up.

A Sept. 11, 2011, article by Jerome Corsi makes a big deal out of "an authentic Hawaii Department of Health long-form birth certificate issued in 1961" as a way to attack Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate. But as the Obama Conspiracy blog reported, the "authentic" certificate Corsi is citing has a lower certificate number than Obama's despite being dated 19 days later.

One of Corsi's major arguments to support the idea that Obama's certificate is a fake, as he detailed in an one WND article, is that it was out of order from a pair of birth certificates known as the Nordyke twins, which were issued around the same time as Obama's. Corsi asked: "how was it possible that the Nordyke twins had their birth certificates accepted by the registrar general in Hawaii three days later than the registrar general accepted Obama's birth certificate, when the twins' numbers are lower than Obama's number?"

The answer, of course, is that more than one person was processing birth certificates in the Hawaii Department of Health office -- but that was too simple a answer for Corsi, who instead felt the need to blow it up into a conspiracy.

But debunking birther conspiracies isn't what WND does. Obama Conspiracy reported that WND originally posted the "authentic" birth certificate with its number faintly displayed, but later substituted it with a version with the number completely blanked out. Woodman posted copies of the unedited and now-deleted certificate on his blog.

WND and Corsi have never explained why it changed images, let alone that the unedited image disproves a major birther conspiracy.

WND-proffered Tim Adams affidavit

WND has promoted an affidavit by Tim Adams, the former Hawaii elections clerk who claims that "he was told by his supervisors in Hawaii that no long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate existed for Barack Obama." Adams offers only secondhand claims of what others told him, and he does not provide any evidence to back his assertions up.

What WND hasn't told readers about Adams' affidavit: It was prepared by WND-affiliated lawyers.

As ConWebWatch detailed, Adams said on an Internet radio show that "someone associated with WorldNetDaily ... paid for the attorney services to draw the document up."

Not only has WND refused to tell its readers about this -- one WND article even quoted from Adams' appearance on that Internet radio show while completely ignoring the affidavit claim -- WND editor Joseph Farah even shut down a press conference rather than answer a question from ConWebWatch about the affidavit.

Obama's grandmother shoots down born-in-Kenya claim

WND has long promoted the notion that Obama's grandmother once claimed that he was born in Kenya. But that was always a bogus claim -- PolitiFact rated the claim “false,” noting that it relies on selectively edited audio of an interview with Obama’s grandmother conducted with Anabaptist minister Ron McRae, which it called “a very rough translation in which an elderly woman agreed to the leading question that Obama was born in Kenya and that she was present. But it was immediately and clearly corrected -- repeatedly.”

This claim has been shot down even more definitively. On June 22, Salon's Irin Carmon reported that during a recent visit to Kenya, she paid a visit to Barack Obama's step-grandmother, Sarah. After asking a certain question in a straightforward manner -- unlike, say, a certain Anabaptist minister -- and got a straightforward answer:

I said, “Some people want to believe that the president was born in Kenya. Have these people ever bothered you or asked for his birth certificate?”

Mrs. Obama looked concerned, started to protest. But it turned out it was because the rabbits, post-coitus, had started to run away via a security guard’s carelessly ajar gate.

I repeated my question and it was translated. Mrs. Obama wrinkled up her face. Then the interpreter jumped in: “She says, ‘But Barack Obama wasn’t born in Kenya.’” That should settle it.

WND has yet to mention Carmon's interview with Sarah Obama.

How much money has WND has raised for the posse?

ConWebWatch has detailed how WND is essentially serving as Joe Arpaio's public relations agents on the birther issue, publishing numerous sycophantic articles about him while attacking his critics. WND is also raising money for the Cold Case Posse through a page at its online store where you can donate to "fund independent investigations of Obama's eligibility," adding: "A portion of all contributions will go to support WND’s efforts, with another portion going to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse, set to issue its report in February 2012."

WND has never disclosed how much of that money it keeps for itself, nor has it announced how much money it has raised for the posse through this method.

Ethical issues on posse e-book

Eyebrows were raised when, during the Joe Arpaio-led press conference that announced preliminary results from the Cold Case Posse "investigation," it was announced that posse leader Mike Zullo and de facto posse member Jerome Corsi had co-written an e-book on the investigation.

The Obama Conspiracy blog noted in June that a complaint has been filed with the Internal Revenue Service challenging the Cold Case Posse's 501(c)3 status because of its alleged political activity in its "investigation" of Obama's "eligibility" -- posse leader Mike Zullo has indicated that the investigation has a goal of affecting the 2012 election -- as well as members of the posse using it for personal gain in the form of the e-book.

WND hasn't reported on this complaint. Further, in a July 17 WND article, Art Moore failed to call out Zullo on his lie that "I’ve made nothing out of that book" despite also quoting Zullo discrediting himself by saying he "received a check [for] $700 and another for $630." Moore and Zullo are apparently pretending that doesn't count as making money because "All of that money, he said, went directly to his church." Moore also doesn't ask the logical question of why the posse, a nonprofit group, shouldn't keep that money.

Ex-posse member's critical book

Phoenix New Times reported in May that Michelle Dallacroce, a right-wing activist who is a former member of the Cold Case Posse, co-wrote an e-book slamming the cold case posse "investigation" of Obama's "eligibility," She attacked the investigation has having been hijacked by ideologues, specifically stating that the Surprise Tea Party was using Arpaio as part of a publicity stunt in one press conference in order to gather signatures for a birther bill.

WND has never reported on the existence of this book.

Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 in one birther lawsuit, filed Steve Ankeny and Bill Kruse. The ruling extensively quoted from the Wong Kim Ark ruling before concluding:

Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are “natural born Citizens” for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents. Just as a person “born within the British dominions [was] a natural-born British subject” at the time of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, so too were those “born in the allegiance of the United States [] natural-born citizens.”

WND did no news articles on this ruling at the time it was issue, and ignored it completely in subsequent reporting. But when a birther lawsuit in Florida was rejected in part because of the Indiana ruling, a Feb. 3 article by Unruh complained that the judge "cited a little-known determination by an Indiana judge" and misspelled the plaintiff's name (as "Arkeny").

Then, in a Feb. 21 article on a new attempt to use the Indiana Election Commission to disqualify Obama from the ballot, Unruh made no mention whatsoever of the "little-known" ruling he noted just a couple weeks earlier that may very well have disqualified such action.

* * *

There is nothing comprehensive about WND's birther reporting -- it's highly selective, ignores inconvenient facts, and its structured to cater to readers who hate Obama as much as WND does.

In other words, it's not reporting at all. It's propaganda. And false propaganda at that.

(Update 8/27/2012: Added section on Ankeny v. Governor of Indiana.)

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2012 Terry Krepel