Typos Tip Off a Birther Resurgence

Birtherism is back! More than a year after Barack Obama definitively settled the question of his birthplace by releasing his Hawaii birth certificate the right-wing blogosphere is focusing in on two typos that, if they were not typos, would suggest that he was born in Kenya. But this time the message is it's all Obama's fault. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Birtherism is back! More than a year after Barack Obama definitively settled the question of his birthplace by releasing his Hawaii birth certificate the right-wing blogosphere is focusing in on two typos that, if they were not typos, would suggest that he was born in Kenya. But this time the message is it's all Obama's fault.

On Thursday, Bretibart.com kick-started a Birther Renaissance by reporting that in a 1991 booklet promoting Obama's memoir, his publisher erroneously described him as "Kenyan-born." Like so many semi-mainstream conservative blogs, Breitbart.com said it didn't buy into birtherism, only that it was asking tough questions the media neglected to ask in 2008. Then, as far as we can piece together, conservatives began forwarding around a link to a 2004 Associated Press that was headlined "Kenyan-Born Obama All Set for U.S. Senate." This one is so old, though, that it was debunked way back in 2009 by the Internet's leading email-forward debunker, Snopes.com, as some sloppy headline writing by a Kenyan web site. Still, bigtime bloggers like CNN's Erick Ericksonthe Daily Caller's Jim TreacherHuman Events' John HaywardGateway Pundit's Jim Hoft, all linked to the story, but with a new twist: they don't believe Obama was really born in Kenya and thus an illegitimate president, but they do think he did something that led to the mistake meaning that he's a liar.

Here's a tip, guys: When you re-forward an untrue email-forward, you're outing yourselves as a target-rich environment for Nigerian scammers. The 2004 story in question, from the Associated Press, never calls Obama Kenyan-born. But the headline the Sunday Standard, a Kenyan news organization, put on the wire story was "Kenyan-born Obama all set for US Senate." It added "Kenyan-born" to the story text. The Associated Press reporter never referred to Obama's birthplace.
Nevertheless, it's a datapoint in the New Birtherism. It's now considered unseemly to go full birther outside far-right sites like World Net Daily. Breitbart.com posted it's birther story under a tortured editor's note saying the late Andrew Breitbart, the site's founder, was never a birther, but that the booklet "is evidence--not of the President's foreign origin, but that Barack Obama's public persona has perhaps been presented differently at different times." Several sites paired that story with the fake Associated Press headline. or example, was picked up Friday by Human EventsJohn Hayward in a post titled "More fun with Obama’s creative biography." The sub-headline on his story is, in retrospect, snotty in the most unfortunate way: "Fact-checking his past sure is difficult!" How could the publisher make such a mistake, he asks. How could Obama not correct it? One possibility, he says, pointing to a post by Melissa Clouthier, is that Obama himself claimed he was born in Kenya to sound cool. Writing at RedState, Erick Erickson -- a CNN contributor! -- takes it a step further. First, the obligatory disclaimer:

I do not believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya. I don’t think it matters even if he were born overseas because his mother was an American citizen. I’m not going to debate it with the cult of birtherism.

Then, noting that Miriam Goderich says she made the error without information from Obama when she worked at the literary agency representing him, he says that's "laughable." Obama "has repeatedly been perfectly okay embellishing and having others embellish his qualifications," he says. It raises an important question:

Could this be why the campaign screams bloody murder about racists and birthers every time someone asks about Barack Obama’s college transcripts? This would explain why Obama is so squirrely about the issue and waited until Donald Trump caused him measurable damage in the polls on this issue before responding. He’s not embarrassed that people will find out he lied about being born in Hawaii; he’s embarrassed they’ll find out he lied about being born in Kenya.

The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher tweeted a link to the Kenyan-born story with the single word "Huh." In a post about Breitbart's booklet, he describes himself as initially "Birth-curious." But raises the Affirmative Action question:

Either Obama was born in Kenya or he wasn’t. I remain skeptical that he was. The question is, then: Why did he claim to be? What advantage did he think it gave him at the time? Maybe Elizabeth Warren can tell us…

Warren is the Massachusetts Senate candidate under fire for being listed as  a Native American at multiple law schools. The implication is that she's an Affirmative Action hire -- and an unworthy one, since her Native American ancestor is her great-great-great grandmother. Pajamas Media's Roger L. Simon goes down this road too. Either Obama was born in Hawaii or he was born in Kenya, he writes. Maybe, in fact, it's worse if Obama's a real citizen. "So what if he was born in Kenya? At least we know why he lied about it. He wanted to be president." If he was born here? Well, that's "a more interesting question," Simon says, and a whole different kind of lie:

[T]here must be an explanation for why the court eunuchs of the mainstream media have never bothered even to investigate the scholastic career of the most powerful person in the world.

Because Obama got bad grades? Yawn — so did Bush, Kerry, Biden, Ted Kennedy, and dozens of others who later found themselves making life or death decisions over our lives.

No, it had to be something more significant, more potentially dangerous. What if, we thought, as others have suggested, the reason Obama’s school records have not surfaced is that he enrolled, at one of those institutions at least, as a foreign student — a Kenyan?

But why would he choose to do that? Well, maybe for a grant, a subvention, a scholarship that was available uniquely to students from Africa or similar locales.

On Friday, the Drudge Report linked to a story at World Net Daily showing that in 2003, Obama's bio on Dystel & Goderich's author page said he was born in Kenya:

It also says he was raised in "Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago" -- wait a second! Obama didn't move to Chicago till after college! Why is he trying to deceive people into falsely believing he was raised in Chicago?! Were there more scholarships available to Chicago natives? Perhaps the Chicago machine helped him get his spot at Harvard Law -- taking the spot of a more deserving white person. This raises more questions than it answers, my friends.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.