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The Many Lies of Joseph Farah

by Loren Collins

I retired my blog, Barackryphal, at the end of 2013 because I was burnt out on Birtherism. After five years, it’s simply become a rehashing of the same tropes, and there’s little new to address.

However, after WorldNetDaily all but gave up on its Birther interests in the fall of 2012, WND President Joseph Farah has recently raised its spectre again, and in doing so yet again demonstrated some abject dishonesty that I felt compelled to address. Others have called him out for his supposed hypocrisy over his reactions to Barack Obama and Ted Cruz.

But I’m not here to call him a hypocrite. I’m here to document that he’s a liar. To wit, in his column of April 23, 2011, Joseph Farah wrote:

“WND never reported that Obama had spent $2 million hiding his birth certificate.”

Whereas five months earlier, on December 9, 2010, Farah said:

“Obama has spent at least $2 million fighting efforts to release his birth certificate.”

And that’s just Farah himself; he claimed that WND had never reported this, when in fact WND reporters had said this dozens of times.

On February 19, 2011, Joseph Farah wrote:

“I don’t know any thinking, rational person who questions the existence of Obama’s birth certificate.”

But what did Farah himself say two years earlier, on Chuck Crismier’s radio show on June 5, 2009?

“There’s a reason that Barack Obama will not show the American people his birth certificate. I believe he doesn’t have one.”

And who else questions the existence of Obama’s birth certificate? Why, none other than WND’s senior reporter, Jerome Corsi. Because Corsi had this to say on The Alex Jones Show on January 20, 2011, just one month before Farah claimed that no “thinking, rational person” would say such a thing:

“The key document that should be produced, if it exists and I don’t believe it does, is the long-form, hospital-generated Hawaiian birth certificate for Barack Obama.”

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Birthers for Cruz!

The Opposing Views web site carries a new article today about WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah, his birther opposition to Barack Obama and his support for foreign-born potential presidential contender Ted Cruz. The article also cites support for Cruz from birther-friendly congressman Steve Stockman.

Both seem to like Cruz’ birth certificate more than Obama’s, even though the latter is the only one with a paper trail and official confirmation. Could the problem with Obama’s certificate be that word “African” on it—I mean as a fact, not an anomaly.

Klayman to take another run at Esquire appeal

Joseph Farah (et al.) sued Esquire Magazine over a spoof article Esquire published online that Farah claims destroyed the salability of the book, Where’s the Birth Certificate? by Jerome Corsi. Farah lost when his case was dismissed under the DC Anti-SLAPP law  (and for other reasons). You can read about the case from my various articles on it.

The real issue in the appeal was not whether Esquire Magazine defamed Farah, but whether the case should have been dismissed rather than tried. Plaintiffs have decided to try again, requesting that the case be heard by the full circuit court, en banc.

A hearing of a case by the full circuit is discretionary (requiring a majority of the judges not recused in favor), not a right, and in the District of Columbia, certain principles apply. Hoping for a better result is not grounds for a hearing by the full circuit. Here are the sorts of things the DC Circuit considers en banc:

  1. resolving an apparent conflict  in the prior decisions of panels of the court;
  2. rejecting a prior statement of law which, although arguably dictum, warrants express rejection to avoid future confusion;
  3. overruling an old or obsolete decision which, although still technically valid as precedent, has plainly been rendered obsolete by subsequent legislation or other developments; and
  4. overruling a more recent precedent which, due to an intervening Supreme Court decision, or the combined weight of authority from other circuits, a panel  is convinced is clearly an incorrect statement of current law.

Klayman’s argument is that this case is of “exceptional importance” dealing as it does with  limits on the protection of satirical speech. He does not make any argument that existing precedent is insufficient, conflicting or outdated. Klayman’s essential argument is that the decision was wrong for various reasons, already rejected by the Circuit Court panel who denied his appeal.

I won’t get into the Lanham Act angle—interested readers can read the briefs. What I do want to mention is that part of an Anti-SLAPP dismissal involves an assessment of the likelihood that a plaintiff could prevail at trial, and I certainly consider it doubtful that Farah and Corsi could show that they were actually damaged by the Esquire article (beyond its satirical purpose that they be laughed at). Klayman argues that the Esquire article is libel per se (and damages need not be proven) because it accuses Farah and Corsi of a crime, citing Raboya v. Shrybman & Associates1; however, Klayman never explains exactly what the crime is when someone writes a book with “factual inaccuracies” (the actual words that Esquire satirically puts into Farah’s mouth). If “commercially defrauding the American Public” means putting “factual inaccuracies” in a book, then this is a crime that Farah and Corsi are arguably guilty of many times, along with a host of other authors.

From my layman’s viewpoint, the issues are clear cut and the DC Circuit will not endorse a hearing en banc. Sometimes there is a published written order with explanation when petitions for hearing en banc are decided.

The word "Doomed " in dripping font


1This is a curious case to cite in that the defendant successfully had the libel per se count dismissed. The Court took a strict view of what constituted a crime. If anything, this decision seems to hurt Klayman’s case.

Farah v. Esquire appeal unsuccessful

The Esquire article certainly didn’t fool me, any more than Klayman’s legal briefs fooled the judge.

– Dr. Conspiracy
– Comment at WorldNetDaily

imageIn a satirical article, Esquire Magazine made a birther joke, that since Obama released his birth certificate, Jerome Corsi’s ill-titled book Where’s the Birth Certificate were being recalled. Joseph Farah, perhaps seeing a publicity opportunity sued. He lost under a statute designed to prevent meritless lawsuits from chilling public comment, the court ruling that Farah had no reasonable chance of convincing a jury. Farah’s attorney was the well-known litigator, Larry Klayman.

Farah appealed the decision, and lost. WorldNetDaily announced the loss in an article a few minutes ago.

“It’s dishonest,” said WND’s attorney, Larry Klayman, of the decision. “This is an issue for the jury to decide. They took it away from the jury, and that’s inappropriate.”

Klayman blames the loss on the political ambitions of the judges who ruled against him.

“These judges know that if they make an unpopular decision against the establishment that they will never be able to be promoted to the Supreme Court or any other position they might get through political patronage,” he said.

Well, the purpose of the DC anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation)  statute is to prevent the threat of litigation and its associated costs from chilling public participation. Klayman was unable to show the suit could win.

Is this one destined for the Supreme Court? Do pigs wish they could fly?

Update: This article previously stated, erroneously, and it was reported elsewhere, that there was a 2-1 spit decision by the court. This is not correct. All three judges agreed on the decision, but only two concurred on the opinion.

Related articles:

Media coverage:

  • Courthouse News Service – Warren’s reference to Corsi as an “execrable piece of shit,” is clearly his personal opinion as it “does not appear to convey any factual assertion, but is rather ‘the sort of loose, figurative or hyperbolic language which would negate the impression’ that a factual statement was being made,” Brown wrote (emphasis in original).

Googling Obama’s birth certificate

imageI wanted to get a sense of what the Internet was saying about Obama’s birth certificate–what does someone coming fresh to the issue get from the most popular Internet search engine1? To find out, I sent a naive query2 to Google: obama birth certificate. The top 10 results with some commentary and conclusions follow:

1-2

The first article that comes up is the White House web page announcing the release of Obama’s long form birth certificate, and the second is the Wikipedia article on “Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories.”

3

Someone who skips the official announcement and thinks the Wikipedia is unreliable (and many do) might go to the third result and get an article at what appears to be a conventional news site, the World Tribune, and find an article titled “Forensic findings on Obama’s birth certificate: ‘A 100 percent forgery, no doubt about it’” by Grace Vuoto that opens:

There is a problem with President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate: It’s a forgery, say multiple forensic experts who have examined it. A report detailing the evidence will soon be presented to Congress.

The article goes on to state as fact many discredited claims of Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse, and to pretend that there is no “other side” in the controversy. The naive reader might well be fooled into thinking that this is a mainstream publication with the integrity and fact checking that comes with that. An interesting article about the World Tribune, by Ben McGrath in The New Yorker, says otherwise:

In fact, the World Tribune is not published in the United Kingdom, nor is it, to be precise, a newspaper. It is a Web site produced, more or less as a hobby, in Falls Church, Virginia, and is dedicated to the notion, as its mission statement explains, that “there is a market for news of the world and not just news of the weird.”

…Although [editor and publisher of the World Times Robert] Morton said, “We emphasize newspaper standards to counter the half-baked, unfiltered content on some online sites,” World Tribune.com more fairly qualifies as something between a newspaper and a rumor-mongering blog. Call it “blews.”

McGrath goes on to document some “faux news” stories published at the World Tribune including the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

4

At the number 4 slot, we’re in pretty deep trouble with an article from the epicenter of birth certificate doubt mongering, WorldNetDaily with the unattributed article, “Obama birth-certificate doubts head to Capitol.” I has quotes from Zullo, video clips from Carl Gallups and a side order of the McInnish v. Chapman case before the Alabama Supreme Court. In typical WND fashion, much “old news” is tacked onto the article to make it longer.

5

Finally, in 5th place, we arrive at a respected news source, that specializes in investigating claims by others, and has some real journalistic standards–PolitiFact. Their article is a compendium of things said about the birth certificate, rating them from “True” (“a federal judge sanctions Tennessee ‘birther’ lawyer …  for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.”) to “False” (“President Obama has spent over $2 million in legal fees defending lawsuits about his birth certificate”) to “Pants on fire” (“Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie made a late-night visit to Kinko’s to forge President Barack Obama’s birth certificate two days before Obama unveiled it to the media.”)

6

Returning to the WorldNetDaily lineage (WND publisher Joseph Farah founded it), we have an article at the Center for Western Journalism, a wrapper for a video interview with Mike Zullo, “Under the Microscope: The Obama Birth Certificate.”

7

At lucky number 7, we find the popular debunking site Snopes.com and their article “Barack Obama Birth Certificate.”

8-10

Rounding out the top 10, we have:

Renew America: Obama’s reckoning to come November 19 by birther attorney Larry Klayman. “Klayman calls for the masses to force resignation of convicted President.” (Klayman had held a mock trial in Florida.)

Politico.com: “Trump spars with ABC reporter over Obama’s birth certificate

The Inquisitr: “Birthers: Obama has until Nov. 19 to show his birth certificate or else…

Summing up

At least according to the search engines, Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse is the main story on the Internet about Obama’s birth certificate. That’s what’s news, and a number of older articles carry some background and debunking of the issue in general (but most are pre-Zullo).

Here’s my opinion about the web sites returned by Google in two categories:

Reliability

  • Reliable: 5 (1, 2, 5, 7, 9)
  • Unreliable: 5 (3, 4, 6, 8, 10)

Bias

  • Pro Obama: 2 (1, 10)
  • Anti Obama: 4 (3, 4, 6, 8)
  • Neutral: 4 (2, 5, 7, 9)

The naive searcher faces an uphill battle using search engine results to evaluate claims that there is something awry with Barack Obamas’ birth certificate. They have to wade through a great deal of misinformation and bias (50% of the articles on Google’s first results page) in order to get to the facts. While claims by Mike Zullo are front and center, debunking of the Cold Case Posse is on the back pages.

I suppose it’s an unrealistic expectation to get truth from a search engine. Nevertheless, it’s how many get their facts. I’m concerned about the spread of the birtherism disease, and will continue to think about how to help make things better.


1Would another search engine would give better results. I gave Bing a try.

  1. WorldNetDaily: “Obama birth-certificate doubts head to Capitol” (Zullo story)
  2. ABC News: “Obama’s Birth Certificate Could Be a Forgery” (Zullo story)
  3. Snopes: “Barack Obama Birth Certificate
  4. White House: “President Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate
  5. Was Obama Born in Kenya?  “Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate” (Lucas Smith)
  6. Wikipedia: “Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories
  7. BarackObama.com: “Fight the smears: The Truth about Barack’s birth certificate.”
  8. Huffington Post: “Obama Birth Certificate
  9. YouTube: “PROOF!!! Obama Birth Certificate Fraud” (this Alex Jones 2011 video has almost 1 million views)
  10. Factcheck.org: Born in the U. S. A.

2Google has an option to get results tailored for the user, or world-wide results; I picked the latter.

Hearing in birther spoof lawsuit appeal

The US Circuit Court in DC has posted the audio (embedded below) from the recent hearing in the Farah v. Esquire Magazine lawsuit brought by Joseph Farah against Esquire Magazine over a spoof article they published saying the Jerome Corsi’s book Where’s the Birth Certificate? was being recalled.

Good spoofs keep the reader believing their unlikely premise as they stray into gradually wilder and wilder implausibility. This was the case in the Esquire story, and I suppose that someone who quit reading the story after the first 20 words might have believed it.

In oral arguments, Farah’s attorney Larry Klayman, argues that 25% of Americans have doubts about Obama’s eligibility. I don’t think the appellate judges will have any doubts about this case.

Read article at ConWebWatch.