Suddenly Reluctant Birthers At WND
Donald Trump finally forces WorldNetDaily to pursue -- very unenthusiastically -- the issue of Ted Cruz's eligibility, and it gives him benefits of doubt it never granted to President Obama. Even birther extraordinare Jerome Corsi flip-flops to protect Cruz.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily was an enthusiastic Obama birther -- to the point that it hid the truth and destroyed its credibility pursuing it. By contrast, it has been incredibly unenthusiastic about pursing eligibility questions about Ted Cruz.
WND had been signaling for two years that it would not be a Cruz birther -- after all, unlike Barack Obama, Cruz is a right-winger who holds views mirroring those of much of the WND staff, from Joseph Farah on down.
Then Donald Trump came along to make a huge issue out of it. WND and Trump have a history; both Farah and Jerome Corsi advised Trump when he started peddling Obama birther conspiracies in 2011. Farah gushed at the time that "I am eternally grateful to him for standing up boldly and demanding to see Barack Obama's birth certificate," adding that Trump is "doing God's work here."
WND has been a proud supporter of Trump's presidential run, to the point that it started manufacturing polls to benefit Trump. It enlisted terrible pollster Fritz Wenzel (now operating under the name Clout Research) to create the ridiculous result that because four of exactly 10 blacks polled supported trump it means that "40 percent of blacks are lining up behind Trump."
WND even named Trump its "Man of the Year" for 2015. The anonymously written article announcing the honor was full-on gushing: "They treated his campaign announcement as a joke. They tried to destroy his business. They called him every foul name they could come up with. But at the end of 2015, the biased journalists, political consultants, leftist activists, snarky comedians and embittered critics of every stripe had to concede one man had beaten them all." Unmentioned, however, was the one thing that originally brought WND and Trump together -- birtherism.
All of this made things a little awkward when Trump went full birther against Cruz in early January. Because of its past refusal to bring up the issue, that left WND far behind the curve, and it meant that it could cover the issue grudgingly at best.
A Jan. 7 WND article by Bob Unruh featured John McCain throwing Cruz under the bus by perpetuating the issue but very carefully avoided mentioning the fact that the extremely narrow definition of "natural born citizen" WND has applied to Obama for years to prove Obama isn't eligible would render Cruz ineligible as well. No mention of Vattel or Minor v. Happersett, the authorities WND previously relied on for its "natural born citizen" definition. Instead, Unruh lamented that the Constitution "doesn't define 'natural born citizen,' and the Supreme Court has never clarified it," and asserted that "most modern-day legal analysts" say Cruz is eligible (failing to mention this means Obama is also eligible).
Unruh also wrote that "Trump also had supported questions into Obama’s eligibility back in the day, even opennig [sic] the door to the idea Obama was born in Kenya and his birth registered in Hawaii to allow him the advantages of American citizenship." But he didn't mention that WND was advising Trump on birther issues at the time.
As more Cruz birther stories broke -- it was reported that Cruz's mother, through whom Cruz claims his presidential eligibility though he was born in Canada, appeared on a list of Canadian citizens eligible to vote in the country four years after Cruz's birth, followed by the Cruz campaign releasing the mother's birth certificate of the mother. These would be huge stories at WND had they involved Obama; instead, WND published only a brief summary about the birth certificate that it stole from Breitbart, and it censored the voter-list story completely. The only birther-related thing WND did all weekend was a column by Larry Klayman declaring that neither Cruz nor Marco Rubio are eligible (and, yes he does invoke Vattel and Minor v. Happersett). He also declared that "Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim under Shariah law thanks to his Muslim father" and called Cruz and Rubio "Cuban-American pale faces." WND did not promote Klayman's declarations anywhere else on its website.
A Jan. 11 WND article by Douglas Ernst took a weird tangent, featuring a constitutional law professor questioning Cruz's eligibility followed by Rush Limbaugh deffending Cruz: "It’s settled. Cruz’s mother was a citizen. Therefore, he is. Deal with it!" Again, no mention of the precedents WND itself promoted to declare Obama ineligible, or the fact that WND had once proudly proclaimed Limbaugh to be a fellow birther.
Meanwhile, editor Joseph Farah couldn't run far enough away from Cruz birtherism. Farah spent his Jan. 15 column ranting about a Daily Beast article linking WND to Cruz birtherism. Farah does have a point for once, his notoriously thin skin notwithstanding; the Daily Beast falsely portrays WND's perfunctory reporting on Cruz birtherism as support for it, ignoring that WND has adamantly refused to treat Cruz birther like it did Obama birtherism.
As Farah rants about how far he's running from Cruz birtherism, he still manages to perpetuate Obama birther lies:
No one at WND not one single employee or executive is supporting [Daily Beast reporter Gideon] Resnick’s elusive “cause” to declare Ted Cruz ineligible. In fact, I told him that in no uncertain terms. What I said to him was the following: I think Ted Cruz acted admirably in handling the potential for confusion on this matter by releasing his birth certificate before announcing his candidacy, explaining the circumstances of his birth and citizenship status. It stood in marked contrast to what Barack Obama did beginning in 2008.
Farah's lying when he claims Obama didn't release his birth certificate while running for president; Obama released a certificate of live birth, which is what Hawaii routinely issued and which is legally binding, no matter how much WND has claimed otherwise. The issue became a "national joke" in no small part because of WND's obsession with it and refusal to publish any evidence that discredits its birther conspiracies -- something that persists to this day.
Farah continued, seemingly unable to stop lying about how much of a (Obama) birther he is:
Finally, after 17 paragraphs, the Beastie boy typist informs his readers, if they got this far, that I actually like Ted Cruz, but not before he labels me a “purveyor of conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth in Kenya.” Again, to show you how egregious this insulting lie is, I began our conversation by telling Resnick that I was talking to him reluctantly because MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was still going off on her TV show accusing me of claiming Obama was born in Kenya. I explained that in the hundreds of thousands of words I had carefully written on this subject and in the hundreds of interviews and speeches I gave, never once did I say Obama was born in Kenya. I was attempting to make sure he wouldn’t step on this one land mine, but he did obviously intentionally.
As ConWebWatch first pointed out years ago, Farah has at least twice promoted a discredited claim that Obama's grandmother said he was born in Kenya -- not to mention WND's embrace of a fake Obama "birth certificate" claiming he was born in Kenya.
Farah also took offense to something else the Daily Beast suggests, that WND's publication and promotion of a new book by Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz's father, is an expression of support for Cruz's candidacy; he huffs that "my motives are impugned." Given that Farah's refusal to apply Obama birtherism to Cruz birtherism is a clear indication that his motive in Obama birtherism was to destroy him instead of enforce the Constitution, there's good reason to question, and impugn, Farah's motives.
Finally, Farah's ranting about how unfair the Daily Beast article is -- although he does have a point -- is rather rich considering WND's own abysmal journalistic standards. What goes around comes around.
And throughout all of this, Farah refused to admit the obvious: that by WND's own Obama birther standards, Cruz is not eligible, or that two years ago he declared that he didn't think Cruz was eligible. Talk about dishonest.
The Trump-generated Cruz birther heat got to be so much that birther extraordinaire Jerome Corsi felt compelled to contribute. And the first thing he did was change his birther tune.
In a Jan. 17 WND article, Corsi hits a couple of the old birther notes, referencing Vattel and sneering that Obama's birth certificate was "supposedly issued in 1961 by the Hawaii Department of Health." Apparently he's forgotten that the Cold Case Posse he was a part of learned that Hawaii has officially verified Obama's Hawaiian birth, even if state officials wouldn't let Corsi, Mike Zullo and the other amateur sleuths see the physical certificate. Corsi also added this unusually even-handed passage:
On Nov. 14, 2011, the Congressional Research Service published a research report authored by legislative attorney Jack Maskell, titled “Qualifications for President and the ‘Natural Born’ Citizenship Eligibility Requirement.” The document was published as Obama was being pressed to make public his original long-form birth certificate, supposedly issued in 1961 by the Hawaii Department of Health as proof Obama was born in Hawaii.
But when the Maskell research report was first issued, Corsi was much less even-handed, accusing the writer (without evidence, of course) of shilling for Obama.
In a November 2011 WND article, Corsi huffed that the very same Maskell report he's now uncritically reciting "appears aimed at providing members of Congress with talking points to respond to constituents contending that Barack Obama is not a “natural born citizen” within the meaning of Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution." Corsi went on to grumble:
The end result of Maskell’s analysis is that an anchor baby born to two illegal immigrants, or a baby born in “birth tourism” to two foreign national parents and raised outside the United States would both be eligible to be president, provided the person was 35 years old and had spent 14 years as a resident living within the United States before running for president.
Corsi repeated none of these attacks on Maskell in his Cruz article, nor did he mention the Minor v. Happersett case long clinged to by birthers like himself as the controlling precedent on eligibility.
Corsi also wrote in the 2011 article that among the "several obvious liabilities" Obama has regarding the "the natural-born-citizen question" is that "Obama’s father was a citizen of Kenya when Obama was born in 1961, hence both Barack Obama Sr. and his son at birth were citizens of the Commonwealth of Great Britain." That very same citizenship issue is a "liability" for Cruz as well, but Corsi did not describe it as such in his Cruz article.
Further, in 2010, Corsi further attacked Maskell for previous research he did on eligibility for a member of Congress because it included "copies of four articles from the Internet aimed at debunking and dismissing arguments questioning Obama’s eligibility" and not "published articles questioning Obama’s eligibility" (read: Corsi's birther conspiracy theories). Corsi actually interviewed Maskell for that article; Corsi noted that "he ended the call abruptly saying, 'I am getting contacted by irate people over this memo. It was meant as an advisory to a member of Congress. It was never meant to be released to the public'."
Corsi ended his 2011 article this way:
Unfortunately, rather than advance the eligibility debate with a truly scholarly analysis, Maskell produced for Congress what amounts to a footnoted polemic aimed at appearing scholarly to prop up Obama’s eligibility defense.
Corsi is much less harsh on Maskell now because his work supports the idea that Cruz is eligible to be president. The fact that Corsi has flip-flopped on the report is more evidence that his birther crusade was never about the Constitution and was completely about trying to destroy Obama.
Corsi, the reasonable birther
COLMES: So will you be going after Cruz the same way you went after Obama for not being born here--
It's only a five-minute interview, so not much gets covered. But notice how Corsi weaseled out of ignoring Cruz birther issues until now, citing how he just "wrote an article" on the subject. If Corsi is just now getting around to covering the Cruz birther issue, he's either pretty lazy or willfully blind. Certainly he's been aware of the issue for years; he could have been reporting on it for the months that Cruz has been a presidential candidate, leveraging all he has learned in pursuing Obama birtherism, however incorrect that has turned out to be.
But let's be clear: Corsi and WND are fans of Cruz, and it's obvious Corsi didn't want to make his eligibility an issue for fear of hurting his campaign. It's only because Trump has turned it into an issue that Corsi and WND have finally bothered to cover it -- and they're doing so in a way that's completely opposite of their relentless birther attacks on Obama. Indeed, another Corsi article at WND complained that Trump is using the birther issue to drive Cruz off message.
More proof of this is in Corsi's Twitter feed. Even though, again, Cruz has been a presidential candidate for months, it's not until about Jan. 15 that Corsi bothered to start tweeting about the birther issue, mainly to declare that "TRUMP WAS RIGHT" that it would come up and that (gadfly-ish) Democrats would file legal actions on the issue.
But as of this writing, Corsi hasn't tweeted about Cruz's eligibility since Jan. 23, and he hasn't written for WND on the subject since Jan. 22, when he penned an article noting that a Republican was calling for Cruz to be removed from the primary ballot in Illinois over eligibility issues.
That strongly suggests that Corsi's interest in the issue is perfunctory, done with as little effort as possible to draw heat away from WND for ignoring the issue until now.
Again, Corsi and WND never actually cared about the Constitution when applying birtherism to Obama; it was just something to hide behind while they attempted to personally destroy the president. Corsi now has to pretend to care about the Constitution, calling for a definitive court ruling on what a "natural born citizen" is. Of course, if Corsi can't even accept that Obama's birth certificates are real, there's no point in him suddenly trying to look like a reasonable birther now.