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Birther Bribery, Part 2: Joe Arpaio's WorldNetDaily Posse

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's cold case posse "investigation" of President Obama's "eligibility" may as well have been written by WND. Jerome Corsi's unusually close relationship with Arpaio and the posse and WND's financial ties to them seem to prove it was.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/22/2012

There were lots of red flags around Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "cold case posse" investigation of President Obama's "eligibility" for the office well before the posse announced its preliminary results on March 1.

As ConWebWatch detailed, WorldNetDaily has been raising money for the posse -- while skimming an undisclosed amount off the top for itself -- and WND writer Jerome Corsi was penning hagiographic articles about the sheriff. These ties raised the specter of WND influencing the posse into returning results that reinforced its anti-Obama birther agenda.

Not only is that exactly what happened, the ties between Arpaio, the posse, and WND proved to be even closer than than what had previously been hinted at.

The posse apparently worked so close with WND that not only did Corsi speak during the march 1 press conference, WND published an article in the investigation's results at the same time the press conference started -- proving it got special access to the investigation. Here's how WND summarized the results, making the posse members appear as if they read nothing but WND articles in doing their research:

An investigative “Cold Case Posse” launched six months ago by “America’s toughest sheriff” – Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County – has concluded there is probable cause that the document released by the White House last year as President Obama’s birth certificate is a computer-generated forgery.

Arpaio, at a news conference in Phoenix live-streamed by WND TV that began at 3 p.m. Eastern time, has elevated the investigation to a criminal probe that will make the resources of his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office available to his volunteer posse.

The posse says it has identified at least one person of interest in the alleged forgery of Obama’s birth certificate.

During the press conference, Corsi admitted he worked closely with the posse, so much so that, according to a posse representative, he looked through microfilm of immigration records for proof that Obama's mother traveled to Africa around the time of his birth. Corsi then laughably contended that he was able to do so and maintain his journalistic integrity. This from a guy whose idea of "journalistic integrity" is to bring back forged documents from Kenya as supposed "evidence" of Obama's purported cooperation with Kenyan politician Raila Odinga.

Despite repeated assertions during the press conference by Arpaio and a posse representative, there is no evidence that the posse acted in an independent manner. There is no reason to treat the posse's results any more seriously that one would your average WND article.

Indeed, the posse's results started falling apart quickly. For instance, the most provocative claim made by the posse at the press conference, that Obama's Selective Service registration form is a fake, was swiftly debunked, and the Fogbow forum has a running list of the deficiencies in the posse's so-called research. At the Obama Conspiracy Theories blog, Dr. Conspiracy asked some important questions about this relationship that WND and the posse have yet to answer. Among them:

  • Was Jerome Corsi deputized by Maricopa County, or did he sign an affidavit under oath and penalty of perjury as to his examination of files at the National Archives? If not, why not?
  • Did WorldNetDaily, Jerome Corsi, or Joseph Farah contribute funds to the CCP?
  • John Woodman, the author of a book analyzing claims about Obama birth certificate images, offered on two occasions to assist the CCP. Why was he ignored?
  • What exactly was the role of Jerome Corsi in the production of the CCP report?
  • Why was Mark Gillar, a well-known anti-Obama partisan, chosen to narrate the six short videos that constituted most of the posse’s presentation? Why were the videos posted to Gillar’s “TeaPartyPowerHour” YouTube account, the links to which were included in the sheriff’s press release? And did Gillar help make the videos as well?

One of those questions was seemingly answered, though, when an Arizona TV station reported that Corsi, along with posse member Mike Zullo, issued a e-book on the investigation, on sale for $9.95, the same day the investigation results were announced. Corsi and Zullo will split the proceeds from the book, for which Sheriff Joe Arpaio wrote the introduction.

According to Corsi, he and Zullo get to keep the money because neither of them are paid members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. However, the posse operates under a nonprofit 501(c)3 structure for which WND has been soliciting donations. Corsi didn't explain why the book's proceeds are not instead going toward the nonprofit group -- after all, the posse structure made this money-making opportunity possible for Zullo and Corsi.

Of course the book is for sale at the WND online store. Interestingly, the book shares the same title -- "A Question of Eligibility" -- as a wildly inaccurate video WND produced a couple years ago compiling its birther conspiracies. As of this writing, WND is trying to unload the video for $4.95.

That quickie e-book, however, appears to be barely worth the digital ink it's printed on. One reviewer found that large chunks of the book are essentially copied-and-pasted from Corsi's earlier book,"Where's the Birth Certificate?" Phoenix New Times reported that the core of the report regarding the supposed layers in the PDF file of Obama's long-form birth certificate is, for all practical purposes, the same thing "nationally recognized computer expert" Mara Zebest claimed eight months ago about the PDF of Obama's birth certificate released by the White House. Corsi, of course, promoted Zebest's claims then, and she appeared at WND's press conference announcing its defamation lawsuit against Esquire magazine.

All of this, compounded with the silence from both WND and the posse, made the "investigation" even more difficult to take seriously. But Joseph Farah use his March 5 WorldNetDaily column to complain that the media was covering the quickie e-book and not the results:

Because Mike Zullo, the lead investigator for Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse, has, with the help of WND’s Jerome Corsi, put the findings of the investigation in an inexpensive e-book format for the public, the entire investigation is suspect.

The entire point of the e-book project was to go over the heads of the media, which have almost universally hidden and obfuscated the facts of Obama’s eligibility from the public. And, keep in mind, Zullo participated in the criminal investigation as a volunteer – getting involved reluctantly and skeptically and with no pre-conceived conclusions.

Farah, perhaps deliberately, misses the point. Zullo and Corsi are trying to profit from an "investigation" conducted under the aegis of a nonprofit group that arguably should receive that money instead, a point Farah conveniently omits. This raises the question of whether profit motive -- including the money WND makes from birther and other anti-Obama operations -- is the only motive for WND in keeping the birther issue alive. There's also the question of how Corsi got such intimate access to the posse that he and Zullo were able to crank out a book that was released so quickly after the press conference.

Farah headlined his column "Media in full posterior-cover mode." Until Farah and WND are willing answer the many questions surrounding the posse "investigation," it's clear that the only person in "posterior-cover mode" here is Farah.

While WND was obfuscating about the posse, it was continuing to suck up to Arpaio. A March 14 article stated that "A Tennessee man described as an Obama 'fanatic' has been convicted of threatening to kill Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his family, possibly in connection with the lawman’s investigation into the president’s eligibility for office." The article went on to state that "Authorities say [convicted threatener Adam Eugene] Cox’s postings indicate – and his own mother confirms – that Cox is a 'fanatical supporter' of Obama." The "fanatical supporter" quote was repeated in a March 16 WND article by Joe Kovacs featuring Rush Limbaugh's claim that the media was ignoring the threat against Arpaio.

Even though the articles put "fanatical supporter" in quotes, the person who said that is never identified. Turns out it's Arpaio himself -- and he's apparently wrong.

The Phoenix New Times pointed out that Arpaio's description of Cox as an "Obama fanatic" conflicts with Cox's actual writings, in which he claims "Satan "ordered" him to kill "birthers" to spark a war between political parties in order to decrease the population in America. New Times also noted that Cox was sentenced to probation, which suggest that the threat may not have been as serious as WND and Arpaio portrayed it.

Meanwhile, the financial links between WND and Arpaio continue to grow deeper. Not only has WND continued to solicit donations for Arpaio's posse -- at least four solicitations have been sent out on WND's email list since the posse's press conference -- Arpaio's re-election campaign rented WND's email list to to make a solicitation of its own. It's almost as if Corsi wrote the copy for it: Like Corsi, the email complains about how his opponents are "lying about me and my record" and how the Justice Department's investigation of Arpaio's office "is nothing but a political stunt aimed at intimidating me from doing the job I was elected to do."

Despite all of these shady, unethical dealings, WND is still desperate for its birther conspiracies to be taken seriously, so it raises fits every time one of its purported bombshells gets justifiably ignored by the media.

One such wannabe bombshell came in the form of a March 19 article by Corsi detailing how "A retired U.S. Postal Service carrier who delivered mail to Tom and Mary Ayers in a Chicago suburb in the late 1980s and early 1990s [who] claims to have met Obama in front of the Ayers home." From this, Corsi goes on to extrapolate that "the parents of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers help[ed] finance Barack Obama’s Harvard education," that "Ayers’ mother believe[d] Obama was a foreign student," and that "the young Obama [was] convinced at the time – long before he even entered politics – that he was going to become president of the United States."

Corsi downplayed the fact that the postal carrier has no actual evidence whatsoever to back up his claim -- he can't even prove that the man in question was actually Obama. As Dr. Conspiracy summed up: "Whether the elderly mail character is trying to save his country with a lie, or more likely just telling a true story embellished to be interesting, the details don’t hang together and there is no corroboration."

Nevertheless, Corsi's boss, Joseph Farah, thinks this is something like the biggest story ever despite the fact that there's no there there, and his default answer as to why nobody else is covering it ignores the total lack of supporting evidence and heads straight to conspiracy:

Why didn’t they touch it?

We have more insight than ever before.

It’s not that the facts aren’t compelling. It’s not that the story is not of interest. It’s not that the story is not being talked about at water coolers across America.

So what is it?

Very simple. This isn’t just your average Bill Ayers story. This one touches on a raw nerve for the media. It touches on the increasing possibility that Obama is not really constitutionally eligible for the presidency after all – a story pooh-poohed by virtually everyone in the media establishment for the last four years.

Actually, this story has nothing to do with eligibility -- even if it is true, it's outweighed by the fact that the veracity of Obama's birth certificate has never been credibly disproven (WND's so-called "experts" don't count). There is no "insight" here -- just the ramblings of an elderly man trying to remember what he may have seen 20 years ago, things for which he has absolutely no proof and which wouldn't even pass for hearsay evidence in a court of law.

Still, WND plans to flog this story. A follow-up article complained that "Media Matters and other pro-Obama outlets such as the Democratic Underground are reacting in full mock-and-ridicule mode" to the story, positively giddy over the Drudge Report link and how "At one point today, the Web information company Alexa ranked the story as the fifth hottest page on the Internet." But WND will never admit that it's nothing but unproven hearsay.

This was followed up by a March 21 article by Joe Kovacs quoting Arpaio as claiming that "there is 'tons' more potentially shocking information on Barack Obama in connection with his probe into the president’s eligibility." It's kinda cute how Kovacs pretends he doesn't know what Arpaio will come up with next. Can't he just holler at his co-worker and de facto posse member Jerome Corsi for the scoop? He obviously knows -- heck, all the evidence shows that WND is coordinating information releases from the posse. Kovacs is simply playing dumb.

Kovacs further quotes Arpaio calling "the media’s suppression of his findings of a likely forged presidential birth certificate and Selective Service Card 'probably the biggest censorship blackout in the history of the United States.'” Bigger than Arpaio's blackout on the secret relationship between him and WND? Of course, we can't expect Kovacs to suss out this information -- he's too busy being a useful idiot.

Farah harrumphed in his column defending the postman's eveidence-free claims: "We’re watching the Big Media implode like the old Soviet Union – becoming less relevant by the day." As long as WND stays silent about its shady backroom dealings with Arpaio and the posse, the only person heading for an implosion is Farah.

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