WorldNetDaily Bails on Birthers
WND editor Joseph Farah endorses Ted Cruz while ignoring his eligibility issues -- and to justify the endorsement, Farah abandons the signature issue of WND for the past eight years.
By Terry Krepel
Has WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah gone soft on birtherism, the cause most associated with him and WND since Barack Obama started running for president eight years ago? It sure looks that way.
Indeed, Farah has done so in the most surprising way: endorsing a presidential candidate who, under the strict (though never never court-sanctioned) definition of "natural born citizen" it has pushed for years, is even more ineligible to be president than it has claimed Obama to be.
Farah made his endorsement in his March 7 column:
I think Ted Cruz's history demonstrates he has the clearest, most Reaganesque vision of where the country needs to go in its much-needed recovery from eight years of Barack Obama. Cruz is principled, sophisticated and a solid conservative whose understanding of and commitment to the Constitution is unshakeable.
Unmentioned anywhere in Farah's column: the issue of Cruz's eligibility.
Of course, Farah and WND have aggressively avoided pushing the birther issue on Cruz for fear of damaging his election chances; even when Trump made it an issue earlier this year, WND gave it only token coverage that was much fairer than the typical Obama birther report. Farah was curiously silent about his own doubts on the issue; back in 2013, he wrote that he doubts that Cruz is eligible under the standards WND tried to enforce on President Obama.
Farah went on to state that "it’s time for everyone, including Trump, to stop trashing his Republican competitors" and that "The two top Republicans need to stop the scathing attacks on each other and to focus on the real threat posed by the specter of the socialist and the criminal vying for the other party's nomination." Again, Farah failed to mention that among those "scathing attacks" is Trump going birther on Cruz.
(Farah's column rather laughably began with the editor's note: "The following column represents a personal political endorsement by Joseph Farah, the editor and founder of WND.com, and not a corporate editorial endorsement." As if there's any meaningful difference between the two; WND's editorial agenda has always been a direct reflection of Farah's right-wing, conspiratorial views.)
Needless to say, Farah's endorsement didn't go over well with WND's readership, which not only includes a lot of birther dead-enders but a lot of Donald Trump fans as well -- the endorsement column generated around 4,000 comments. Pissing off its own readers finally motivated WND to explain why it has refused to open up its can of birther whoop-ass on Cruz. Well, sorta.
An unbylined March 8 article noted the "thousands" of comments on Farah's column, "most, by far, focused on Ted Cruz’s eligibility." (Curiously, eligibility didn't make the article's headline, which mentions only "Trump supporters" being critical of the endorsement.)
WND didn't explain why birther king Farah didn't mention Cruz's eligibility issues in his endorsement, but it did finally concede the existence of a 2013 column in which Farah doubted that Cruz was eligible. Then it and Farah spun away:
In fact, WND has carried numerous columns and reports on the eligibility for the presidency of Cruz, Rubio and others. Farah, ever at the tip of the spear on a news issue, wrote more than two years ago that he wasn’t sure, but suspected Cruz was not eligible, “at least not by my understanding of what the founders had in mind when they ratified the Constitution.”
That's a lot of subject-changing going on there.
First, WND's "numerous columns and reports on the eligibility for the presidency of Cruz" are actually not very many, and they are effectively zero compared with the literally hundreds of items WND published on Obama's eligibility. WND cannot plausibly suggest it has covered the two issues equally.
Second, the question is not what the "legacy media" did on eligibility issues, no matter how much WND and Farah want you to think otherwise -- besides, the media didn't cover it until Trump pushed the issue, and most of the media agreed Cruz, like Obama, is eligible. It's about the disparity of coverage at WND between Obama eligibility and Cruz eligibility.
Third, Farah's claim that "a precedent was set" by "Congress and courts" not getting into Obama eligibility, therefore "how could we hold others accountable?" is nothing but a cop-out. When has this stopped Farah or WND before?
Fourth, it clear that WND and Farah are apparently adjusting their "understanding" of what a "natural born citizen" is to keep Cruz from running afoul of it. As the WND article itself states, "From other, contemporaneous writings to the Constitution, it likely was understood then to have meant the offspring of two citizens of a country born in the country" (never mind that no court has endorsed it). But now he's suggesting that because Cruz's "mother was an American citizen at the time of his birth" and because Cruz "doesn’t have any allegiance to the country in which he was born Canada," that's now sufficient for Farah to presume that Cruz is eligible.
Needless to say, that completely contradicts what Farah and WND have pushed when Obama's eligibility was in question. So, yeah, another cop-out.
Farah reiterated some of this, then spun some more, in his March 9 column:
Many have asked me, “What about the question of constitutional eligibility?”
No, "Obama and the establishment media" did not make a mockery of the "natural born citizen" clause and made it so you "can’t even have a serious conversation" about it -- Farah and WND did. And they are continuing to mock it by effectively declaring that their years of fulmination over the issue means nothing now that a conservative Republican, not a black Democrat, is the subject.
Farah devoted his March 10 column to cranking up the whining -- that his endorsement of Cruz was criticized, that he was "caricatured as a 'conspiracy theorist,' a 'birther' and vilified as a racist hatemonger" for his anti-Obama birther crusade (hey, if the shoe fits...), and that he's being called out for being insufficiently birther when it comes to Cruz.
Farah does is usual manhood-measuring, making sure we know that he is "the man who founded the first independent online news agency, a lifelong journalist who had won awards for investigative reporting, my work as a foreign correspondent and achievements running daily newspapers in major metropolitan markets." Farah also engages in some counterfactual revisionism on his birther crusade:
In 2011, I published “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” by Jerome Corsi, which instantly became the No. 1 best-selling book in the country. Within days, Obama dispatched aides to Hawaii to retrieve his “long-form birth certificate” releasing an image that satisfied every single so-called “mainstream” media organization in the U.S. An Esquire magazine columnist wrote a column claiming falsely that I was withdrawing the book from the marketplace, setting off a frenzy by retailers to return tens of thousands of copies. We sued Esquire unsuccessfully for restraint of trade and defamation, but the process ended with split decision at the U.S. Court of Appeals level, one step below the Supreme Court.
What did force Obama into it, in fact, was Donald Trump going aggressively birther, something Farah and Corsi were advising him on behind the scenes. Funny how the usually self-aggrandizing Farah is now refusing to take credit for his behind-the-scenes work then or give Trump credit for going birther on both Obama and Cruz.
Farah also conveniently failed to mention that the reason his lawsuit against Esquire failed is because the Esquire post was clearly satire -- something Farah himself admitted until it became inconvenient to do so.
Farah dissembled further: "Meanwhile, WND actually investigated the suspicious document Obama released, which only served to raise more questions than it answered. The only law enforcement investigation of the document found it to be fraudulent." Actually, the only thing "fraudulent" was the investigation itself, sleazed into existence by Corsi and Joe Arpaio and incompetently run by Corsi and Mike Zullo, who (along with WND itself) deliberately ignored factual evidence that didn't conform to their birther conspiracy theories.
Then, bizarrely, Farah decided that he doesn't really know what a "natural born citizen" is -- despite his column carrying the headline "What is a 'natural born citizen?'" -- and that if he did, it doesn't matter now because he doesn't want to make the election about "eligibility." See how he punts:
As for me, I have studied the matter closely. But I do not pretend to be the last word. I have my opinions about the original intent of the founders. I have my opinions about what should be the standard definition. But I would be fooling myself if I thought anyone cared.
This is a massive load of hypocritical hooey. Contrast Farah's suddenly convenient reticence to define who's eligible to run for president with a 2012 column in which he asserted that eligibility "cannot be ignored" regarding Marco Rubio, who isn't eligible because his parents didn't become U.S. citizens "four years after Marco Rubio was born." He cites numerous alleged legal precedents to claim that only a child born of two American citizens can be a "natural born citizen," adding that Obama is not "not eligible" and "never was" because "his father was a Kenyan student who never became a U.S. citizen. Therefore, he doesn't meet the test of eligibility."
But Cruz's father was not an American citizen at the time of his son's birth and didn't become one until 2005. Therefore, under the definition of "natural born citizen" Farah himself promulgated a few short years ago, Cruz is not eligible.
So why won't Farah come out and say that? Why has Farah abruptly decided that he is "not persuaded Cruz is ineligible" despite his own history of pushing an interpretation demonstrating the opposite? Why are they giving Cruz a pass it refused to give to Obama when, according to the definition they applied to Obama, Cruz is even more ineligible?
Because Cruz is a conservative Republican and Obama is not. It's that simple.
The fact that they won't give that straightforward answer should be taken as an admission that their birther crusade was never about the Constitution and completely about the personal and political destruction of Obama. They are abandoning birtherism because it no longer advances his and WND's political agenda.
Farah can't defend not going birther on Cruz, and he knows it -- and, more importantly, WND's readers know it. Abandoning its longtime true-believer birther fans just might be more destructive to the future of Farah's operation than its years of shoddy journalism.