Right-Wing Media Hype Conspiracies About Obama's Long-Form Birth Certificate


Right-wing media have responded to the release of President Obama's original Hawaii birth certificate by embracing conspiracy theories that the document is fake or has been altered.

Right-Wing Media Hype Conspiracy Theories About Obama's Original Birth Certificate

Bolling: "[G]reen Border" On Birth Certificate "Had To Be Photoshopped In." On the April 27 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling displayed an enlarged version of Obama's birth certificate and stated that a "green border" on the document "had to be Photoshopped in." His guest, Pam Geller, responded by stating, in part, "Well, this whole border is suspect." From Follow the Money:

BOLLING: I need to know this. You see this fold. This has clearly been photocopied from a book. You see that? It kind of folds back to, like, almost like a binding of a book. And then for some reason, there's a green border around it that had to be Photoshopped in. Trying to figure out why they would do that.

GELLER: Well, this whole border is suspect. I mean, if you're taking a scan of something, it would, to your point, it would be white. Why is this the color of the same --

BOLLING: Note this - note this, you guys, April 25, 2011 -- two days ago -- is when this was requested from the state registrar, Alvin Onaka. So we'll keep our eye on it. We'll keep digging. Hey, listen. It may or may not be, but certainly opens up the can of worms that there are at least questions for it.

OK, Pam. Hang on. Let me bring in the rest of our all-star panel. On the left, we have Fox News contributor Tamara Holder; on the right, Dr. Ablow rejoins us, along with Fox News contributor Monica Crowley.

I'm looking at you over there, Tamara. I'm looking at you smirking a little bit. What's wrong? I mean, at least it's certainly -- you have to ask the question, has this been Photoshopped? [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

Bolling, Geller Conspiracy-Monger About Doctor Who Gave Birth To Obama. From Follow the Money:

BOLLING: Very quickly, Pamela, this doctor right here, the guy who signed it four days after the birth. He passed away, but his wife today, TMZ had his wife saying I had no idea.

She didn't know about it. His son said I had no idea. It came as a complete shock to him as well. If you gave birth to the president of the United States, don't you think your family would know about it?

GELLER: Maybe he doesn't know about it, either. I mean, I think it's very telling that for three years he didn't release it. There's a big question there. We have to say why -- why didn't he release it after three years? [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

Geller: "This Is Actually Not A Birth Certificate." Also on Follow the Money, Geller claimed that the document the White House released on April 27 is "a certification of a live birth. This is actually not a birth certificate." From Follow the Money:

BOLLING: Pamela, were any of these notation on here - I don't know if our camera can get it in too close

you can see some of these numbers that are clearly written in handwriting on the side. We don't know what they are. Trying to figure out a zero, a two there, an X up over here, a one up here. Were they on the short form?

GELLER: Look, this is a certification of live birth. When I left the hospital, I left with a birth certificate. I'm sorry, I didn't bring with it me, but it looked very much like Donald Trump's. It's a little piece of paper, you've got the nurse -- you know what I'm talking about? Certificate - you know, birth certificate. This is a certification of a live birth. This is actually not a birth certificate. [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

Geller Promotes "Layering" Conspiracy Theory, Asks, "[W]hy Release Such An Obvious Forgery?" In an April 27 blog post, Geller promoted a conspiracy theory claiming that Obama's birth certificate "has been cobbled together" in Photoshop. Geller wrote, "And so the question is, why release such an obvious forgery?" From Geller's post, titled, "Layering: Obama's New COLB raises more questions than it answers":

Today, Obama released another copy of his COLB (certification of live birth) -- more here. It looks like another exhaustive digital forensic examination is in order.

And so the question is, why release such an obvious forgery?

Over at Free Republic:

I thought there was something wrong with my computer when I tried to import the .gov's PDF file into Photoshop. But now that I see what you got when you put it in Word, it's the same thing that Photoshop does to it when I import it! It's DEFINITELY a Layered image that has been cobbled together!

Now, why would only the signatures (and just a partial of Stanley Ann Dunham's) come up? It certainly looks as if someone took Obama's Birth Certificate and then cut&pasted it together! [Atlas Shrugs, 4/27/11]

Drudge Promotes Article On Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones' Site Claiming Birth Certificate Is A "Forgery." On April 28, under the headline, "Is it real?" the Drudge Report linked to a story on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website that claimed the birth certificate released by the White House is a "forgery." From the Drudge Report:

Drudge: Is It Real?

[Drudge Report, 4/28/11; InfoWars.com, 4/28/11]

Hoft Pushes Conspiracy Theory From "Photoshop Expert" That Birth Certificate Is "Such An Obvious Fake." In an April 27 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft touted a conspiracy theory from "Photoshop expert and author of more than 17 books on computer graphics Mara Z." declaring Obama's birth certificate "such an obvious fake." [Gateway Pundit, 4/27/11]

Conservative NRO "Dismissed" "Layering" Conspiracy Theory

NRO: "We Looked Into" PDF Layers Theory And "Dismissed It." In an April 27 post on the conservative National Review Online, Nathan Goulding wrote about the "layer" theory -- which was advanced by Geller and Hoft -- and wrote:

We have received several e-mails today calling into question the validity of the PDF that the White House released, namely that there are embedded layers in the document. There are now several other people on the case. We looked into it and dismissed it.

The PDF is composed of multiple images. That's correct. Using a photo editor or PDF viewer of your choice, you can extract this image data, view it, hide it, etc. But these layers, as they're being called, aren't layers in the traditional photo-editing sense of the word. They are, quite literally, pieces of image data that have been positioned in a PDF container. They appear as text but also contain glyphs, dots, lines, boxes, squiggles, and random garbage. They're not combined or merged in any way. Quite simply, they look like they were created programmatically, not by a human.

What's plausible is that somewhere along the way -- from the scanning device to the PDF-creation software, both of which can perform OCR (optical character recognition) -- these partial/pseudo-text images were created and saved. What's not plausible is that the government spent all this time manufacturing Obama's birth certificate only to commit the laughably rookie mistake of exporting the layers from Photoshop, or whatever photo editing software they are meant to have used. It's likely that whoever scanned the birth certificate in Hawaii forgot to turn off the OCR setting on the scanner. Let's leave it at that. [NRO, 4/27/11]

In Addition, Doctor Listed On Obama's Birth Certificate Died Years Before Obama Became Famous

Right-Wing Claims That Family Of Obama's Birth Doc Should Have Known He Delivered Obama Undermined By Fact That Doctor Died In 2003. Contrary to Bolling's suggestion that it was odd that the family of Obama's birth doctor didn't know that he had delivered the president, the doctor in question died in 2003, when Obama was a little-known state senator from Illinois. [Media Matters, 4/28/11]

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