Millions of readers want refund1
In the latest attempt to prop up flagging sales of its fizzling book, Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, Joseph Farah, Jerome Corsi and their companies are suing Esquire Magazine, its parent company and publisher as a publicity stunt — or that’s how this observer sees it.
Esquire Magazine published an online article May 28, 2011 saying that WorldNetDaily and WND Books were recalling the defective book [made moot by the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate] and offering refunds to customers.
As soon as I heard this, I knew it was ridiculous; however, I guess some didn’t get the joke. I wasn’t even going to write about the story, except that the Wall Street Journal called what Esquire did “disastrous” in their own article: How Not to Write Satire. The Journal reports that Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily got all huffy and is exploring his legal options.
I think that anyone who knows Farah would not take a story seriously that said he was refunding anything, and certainly not admitting that there was anything wrong with Corsi’s book. The inclusion by Esquire of a second totally-beyond-belief fake title supposedly written by Corsi, Capricorn One: NASA, JFK, and the Great moon landing cover-up should have clued everybody that the article was satire; this was the equivalent of a label: “HEY, THIS ARTICLE IS SATIRE!!!” :
Nevertheless, some fairly high up media types were fooled and supposedly WND was floodded by calls from the media asking for confirmation.
Despite all the publicity generated by the satirical article and its retraction/clarification, WTBC?’s ranking at Amazon.com dropped from #67 the day of the satire to #3,110 within a month.
Like any true birther lawsuit, and I think we have to treat this lawsuit in that way, the complaint includes an allegation that Obama is not eligible to be President, that his long-form birth certificate is a fake. Nowhere does Farah or Corsi actually assert that the certificate is a fake, but attribute it to others:
About 25 percent of the American people believe … that the newly-released birth certificate is fraudulent.
I presume that the careful wording indicates that Farah doesn’t believe it himself.
The most startling admission was when WND admitted that after the Esquire article, “consumers began requesting refunds.”
The lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia (and embedded below) demands a large sum in damages of various kinds. Not being a lawyer, it’s hard for me to tell whether any of the damages are listed multiple times, but news reports put the total at $285 million. For that kind of money you’d think Esquire had spilled coffee in Farah’s lap. A jury trial is requested.
We have not seen the complaint. The blog post spoke for itself. It was satire, an age-old and completely legitimate form of expression. Additionally, the piece was tagged as ‘humor,’ as are all of our frequent satire posts on Esquire’s Politics Blog. That was not lost on our observant readers.
The best outcome I can think of for this case (besides WND losing) is that we might actually get some real sales number for Corsi’s book and evidence as to whether or not the bulk purchases of WTBC? were responsible for its best-seller status. I consider that a long shot. WND does not seem to be trying to adjudicate Obama’s eligibility, so expect nothing on that front.
1The subhead is satire. Obviously millions of copies of WTBC? haven’t been sold, so millions could not be asking for refunds. However the tens of millions of dollars in actual damages demanded in the suit would only be appropriate for a book that was a big deal, and this one wasn’t.