WND's Bashful Birthers, Part 2: Bashful No More
Donald Trump's election made it OK for WorldNetDaily to be loud-and-proud birthers again -- and to help Joe Arpaio peddle more findings from his incompetent "cold case posse."
By Terry Krepel
(Editor's Note: This is a two-part article. The first part, focusing on WND's suppressed birtherism before the election, is here.)
During the 2016 election, WorldNetDaily had to suppress its birtherism lest it harm Donald Trump's chances of getting elected president -- despite the fact that WND worked with him behind the scenes to push it.
With Trump's election as president, however, WND felt for the first time in months that it could finally be as birther as it wanted to be.
WND's Bob Unruh teased the Dec. 15 press conference by Joe Arpaio and cold case posse chief Mike Zullo -- made necessary by Arpaio's election defeat -- by rehashing a lot of the old, discredited birther hits. One of those was a definition of "natural born citizen" that disappeared around the time of Cruz's campaign: "Scholarly works cited by the Founders defined it as a citizen at birth by virtue of being born in the country to two citizens of the country, or merely the offspring of two citizens of the country."
Unruh went on to recite Donald Trump's 2011 pro-birther statements -- which, again, WND assisted him behind the scenes in developing -- but he strangely omitted the statement Trump made during the campaign that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."
Unruh uncritically repeated the claim that Zullo "has indicated the White House computer image of Obama’s birth certificate contains anomalies that are unexplainable unless the document had been fabricated piecemeal by human intervention, rather than being copied from a genuine paper document." in fact, it's been proven that those same "unexplainable" anomalies can be reproduced by using a common office scanner to scan in the certificate.
For the Arpaio-Zullo press conference itself, Unruh dramatically wrote:
A years-long forensics investigation into the computer image of the long-form Hawaiian birth certificate image that Barack Obama released during a White House news conference during his first term and presented to the American people as an official government document concluded it is “fake.”
Well, not so much. According to Unruh, "The sheriff’s video said there were nine images on the Obama birth certificate that appear to be identical to, and copied from, another birth certificate issued in Hawaii just days after his birth," that of Johanna Ah’nee. But as birther myth-buster Dr. Conspiracy explained:
In several instances, Zullo misrepresents the facts to make things sound suspicious, and as he has done in previous presentations, he carefully words things that technically say one thing, but leave the impression of something else. He says something extremely suspicious: that the Italian forensic laboratory claimed that if they had a larger sample size, the probability that Obama’s document is a forgery would increase, but of course that would only be true if there were consistency in the sample and variation from the Obama certificate, which one wouldn’t know without looking at the sample.
Dr. Conspiracy also pointed out that Arpaio and Zullo have so far refused to make any of its supporting evidence for its current birther claim public beyond the video -- specifically, the analyses from Reed Hayes (who is a handwriting expert, not a digital document expert) and the Italian forensic laboratory Forlabs. If Arpaio and Zullo are so certain their evidence is solid, why not make it public? Unruh doesn't bother to ask the question, let alone answer it, nor did he note that Arpaio refused to take questions during the press conference.
Unruh also completely ignored how Zullo botched one key part of his evidence. It's been demonstrated that the purported anomalies in the PDF of the Obama birth certificate that Zullo, Corsi and others have pounced on are easily replicated by scanning the birth certificate into a Xerox Workcentre 7655 multifunction printer -- something WND has never told its readers about. Dr. Conspiracy reported that Zullo briefly touched on that in his presentation: "Zullo goes to some lengths to emphasize that the Xerox machine which he admits replicates 'some' of the characteristics of the Obama PDF is irrelevant to this new analysis, but he fails to acknowledge that in previous presentations, he claimed that those same characteristics, now known as normal, were marks of forgery."
Zullo also didn't explain how Obama's nefarious forces could have gotten Johanna Ah’nee's birth certificate to crib images from since, as Dr. Conspiracy noted, Ah'nee's certificate came to the posse through Corsi.
So Zullo still doesn't know what he's talking about -- which, as before, puts a cloud over his purported findings. But Unruh is willing to overlook such things to keep the birther conspiracy alive (after months of silence for fear of hurting Donald Trump's presidential campaign).
As a bonus, WND started laughably promoting Corsi's "Where's the Birth Certificate" as being "vindicated" by Arpaio and Zullo, according to an image inserted in Unruh's article. In fact, Corsi's book was written well before, and released about three weeks after, Obama released the long-form birth certificate that was the subject of the Arpaio-Zullo investigation. Thus, the book contains no information about the long-form certificate, and Arpaio and Zullo's findings -- even if they were legitimate -- cannot possibly vindicate anything in Corsi's book.
The image also insists that Corsi's book was a "No. 1 Bestseller," though WND does not explain when, and on what planet, that ever happened. Remember, Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate decimated sales of the book -- since it answered the question of the book title -- and WND sued (through terrible lawyer Larry Klayman) Esquire magazine over a satire article that claimed it was withdrawing the book, accusing Esquire of, among other things, "tortious interference with business relations." The lawsuit got tossed out of court because WND editor Joseph Farah "immediately recognized" that the Esquire article was satire until it became "inconvenient" for him to do so.
Full-throated birthers again
Afterwards, WND felt freer than ever to go birther in public, as Unruh rounded up various tidbits that didn't make his original reporting on the Arpaio-Zullo presser:
Needless to say, Unruh -- as WND has for years -- censored any mention of the copious evidence that discredits birther conspiracy theories and the sloppy work done by Zullo. Dr. Conspiracy, for example, poked holes in Zullo's main claim, that the date stamp on Obama's birther certificate was at exactly the same angle as another birth certificate issued around the same time. Nor does Unruh question why Zullo has not publicly released the full analyses from Hayes and the Italian forensic laboratory.
It's so safe to be a birther again even WND editor Joseph Farah is doing it, after months of ducking the issue in order to avoid having to apply WND's Obama birther standards to Ted Cruz. Farah's Jan. 20 column cheered how the birther issue allegedly helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency:
Note what Trump said. He said the issue resonated with people. He added that it made him very popular.
Throughout his column, Farah gave Trump a pass for both pushing unsubstantiated and unverified birther claims and for flatly declaring that Obama was born in the U.S. when absolutely nobody (including Farah) believes he meant it. All that matters to him that Trump raised the visibility of the issue, not whether any of it is true. (Remember, WND loves publishing fake news.)
Farah also forgot to mention the pertinent fact that he and birther extraordinaire Jerome Corsi were advising Trump behind the scenes on his birther crusade.
What we will likely see happen over time from WND is Farah and Unruh continuing to promote Zullo's conspiratorial claims as undisputed fact, censor anyone who does dispute them and refuse to demand transparency from Zullo's investigation. Heck, WND was too afraid to tell its readers that Arpaio's replacement as Maricopa County sheriff is disbanding Zullo's cold case posse.
Bringing back the birther martyr
At the end of January, Jerome Corsi announced he was leaving WND to move even further toward the fringe and away from credibility -- he joined Alex Jones' all-conspiracy-all-the-time Infowars operation.
But just because Corsi left WND doesn't mean it stopped being birther. In fact, it launched a a new birther-related crusade.
Jack Cashill announced it in his Jan. 25 column: a petition campaign to get President Trump to reinstate birther ex-military officer Terrence Lakin. Cashill -- who just so happened to have co-written a book with Lakin spinning his side of the story -- claimed:
“Court-martialed, imprisoned, expelled from the Army and denied pay, pension and benefits,” declares the petition accurately, “Terry was merely following his officer’s oath and constitutional duty.”
Wrong. Lakin's real crime was his refusal to follow an order to deploy to Afghanistan, as well as his stupidity for becoming a birther martyr in the first place.
Lakin has only himself to blame for ruining his life and throwing away his military career and pension -- with a big assist from WND for pushing the birther conspiracies he swallowed. He seemed to finally figure it out near the end of his court-martial, when he conceded that perhaps a court martial was the wrong venue to push birther conspiracy theories and that maybe he should follow orders. That didn't save him, though; he was convicted and sentenced to six months at Leavenworth.
Cashill also complained that Lakin couldn't get a medical license in Kansas upon his release from Leavenworth: "The Kansas Board [of Healing Arts] may have indulged outlaw abortionist George Tiller for 30 years, but this timid crew was unnerved by the thought of this veteran flight surgeon practicing medicine in this doctor-short state, impeccable record notwithstanding."
Of course, Cashill is lying about that too. The Kansas board rejected Lakin's application for a license because his "refusal to deploy to Afghanistan to provide medical services in support of Operation Enduring Freedom due to his own personal beliefs represents a disregard for his professional duties and undermines the integrity of the medical profession. Of even more significance, [Lakin's] action's potentially jeopardized the health, safety and welfare of the military troops for which [Lakin] was employed to provide medical care."
Naturally, this was all newsworthy enough for WND to do a "news" article on Lakin. A Jan. 29 article by Jack Minor sympathetically fleshed things out -- the fact that Minor devotes the second paragraph of his article to all the medals and ribbons Lakin received in the military tells you how hagiographic this article is -- and repeats a lot of the distortions and falsehoods Cashill did.
Minor added an "exclusive interview" with Lakin, who's now working in Colorado, and it's clear he's in martyr mode; he baselessly claims his application for a Kansas medical license was rejected over Obamacare, since "The former governor was the HHS secretary and many of the board members were supporters of Obamacare so they took it out on me." Minor also writes that Lakin claim "there was an attempt by Obama supporters and others on the left to destroy him by stripping him of his medical license."
Minor also quoted Lakin's brother, who also baselessly accused the Kansas board of "serious corruption." He also repeats WND's standard line that Obama merely "released what he claimed was his long form birth certificate" (italics ours) which "the only official law enforcement investigation, done on the orders of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, found to be fraudulent. Like the rest of WND, Minor didn't admit that Arpaio's investigation was incompetent and driven by hatred for Obama.
Because WND never reported how its birther conspiracies have been completely discredited, its readers have been deluded into thinking there's merit to the story. One of those readers, presumably, was Lakin. So we can assume that WND played a key role in deluding Lakin into throwing away his military career for a ridiculous conspiracy theory at a time when WND needed a martyr for its cause.
Which makes its new campaign to try and fix Lakin's life -- which it played a major role in screwing up -- not just ironic but pathetic as well. If WND was truly sorry for ruining Lakin's life, it would simply pay him the $2 million in benefits he threw away.
As of this writing, Lakin's petition has a paltry 6,143 signatures, out of a goal of 100,000.
Yes, Trump's election means it's safe for Farah and WND to be openly birther again. That doesn't mean they've become any less dishonest about it.