Flashback: How Fox News Promoted Trump's Birtherism

››› ››› NINA MAST

As the Trump campaign attempts to put Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s racist, conspiratorial claims about President Obama's birthplace to rest, it’s important to remember that Fox News and Fox Business helped lay the groundwork for Trump’s birtherism by giving him a platform to promote his birther beliefs -- which some Fox hosts, analysts, and contributors embraced.

Trump Admits Obama Born In U.S. After Stoking Conspiracy Theories About His Birthplace, Blames Theories On Hillary Clinton

Wash. Post: After "Long History" Of Stoking Doubts, Trump Admitted Obama Was Born In U.S. But Also "Falsely Blamed" Clinton For Conspiracy Theory. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in a September 16 speech at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., said, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period,” after having spent years “stoking unfounded doubts” about Obama’s birthplace. As The Washington Post reported, “For years, Trump has been the most prominent backer of the so-called birther movement, which lurked in the dark corners of the Internet until Trump forced it into the mainstream” yet he tried to “falsely blame Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for starting the rumors.” From The Washington Post’s September 16 report:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Friday acknowledged for the first time that President Obama was born in the United States, ending his long history of stoking unfounded doubts about the nation’s first African American president but also seeking to falsely blame Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for starting the rumors.

"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it, you know what I mean," Trump said at his newly opened luxury hotel in Washington on Friday morning. "President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."

This is not the first time that Trump has accused Clinton of first raising questions about Obama's birthplace, an assertion that has been repeatedly disproved by fact-checkers who found no evidence that Clinton or her campaign questioned Obama's birth certificate or his citizenship.

“For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” Clinton said on Friday, demanding that Trump apologize to Obama. "His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history."

For years, Trump has been the most prominent backer of the so-called birther movement, which lurked in the dark corners of the Internet until Trump forced it into the mainstream. While drumming up publicity for his own possible run for the White House during the last election cycle, Trump began to aggressively question Obama’s qualifications for office. Trump never came out and said where he thinks the president was born, but he demanded to see the president’s longform birth certificate and other records. Trump also claimed to have hired investigators. [The Washington Post, 9/16/16]

Fox News Was Instrumental In Helping Trump Mainstream Birther Conspiracy Theories

Trump Told Unquestioning Fox & Friends Hosts, "I'm Starting To Wonder ... Whether Or Not [Obama] Was Born In This Country." On March 28, 2011, Fox News’ Fox & Friends hosted Trump, who stated, "I'm starting to wonder myself whether or not he was born in this country." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/28/11]

Fox Gave Trump Platform To Call Birthers "Great Americans." During the March 28, 2011, edition of Fox News' On the Record, former host Greta Van Susteren hosted Trump, who used the platform to advance his birther conspiracy theories and praise those who indulge in them as "great Americans." [Fox News, On The Record, 3/28/11]

Fox & Friends Gave Trump A Weekly Segment Which He Repeatedly Used To Push Birther Conspiracy Theories. In April 2011, amid Trump’s repeated claims that President Obama may not have been born in the U.S., Fox News gave Trump a weekly segment as a regular guest. [CBSNews.com, 4/1/11; Media Matters, 4/3/11]

Greta Van Susteren Gave Trump Free Reign To Repeat Birther Theories. During the April 11, 2011, edition of Fox News’ On the Record, former host Greta Van Susteren gave Trump airtime to push his birther conspiracies and discuss his investigation in Hawaii into Obama's citizenship. [Fox News, On the Record, 4/11/11]

Sean Hannity Provided Platform For Trump’s Theories In Interview. During the April 15, 2011, edition of his show, Fox host Sean Hannity aired an interview in which he provided a platform for Trump's birther theories, including asking Trump what his investigators in Hawaii had found regarding Obama's birth. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/15/11]

Steve Doocy Tells Trump Obama Could End Speculation By Just Showing Us His Birth Certificate. During an interview with Trump on the April 18, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy responded to Trump's claim that Obama "has not given a birth certificate" by saying, "He could end it simply, just show it to us, and it'd be over." [Fox News, Fox & Friends4/18/11]

Fox Hosts, Analysts, And Contributors Have Pushed Birther Conspiracy Theories About Obama’s Birthplace For Years

Sean Hannity

Fox Host Sean Hannity Defended Birthers: "Why Are They Crucified And Beaten Up And Smeared And Besmirched?" Interviewing WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah on the March 24, 2011, edition of his radio show, Hannity said that Farah had "been beaten up so badly in the press" for pursuing the birther issue, suggesting birthers have unfairly been "crucified and beaten up and smeared and besmirched":

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): All right. Now, Joseph, you've done the most work of anybody that I know here on the issue, and we heard Donald Trump -- if you ask the question, "All right, well, why not just show us the certificate?" "Ah, you're a birther! You're a birther, that's what you are." It's not been my number-one issue, but I've been following it, and I've been saying, why are all these people that just ask to see it, why are they crucified and beaten up and smeared and besmirched the way they are? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 3/24/11]

Hannity Told Obama: "Produce The Birth Certificate, It's Over And Done With." On the March 24, 2011, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Hannity asked Obama: "What's the deal? Produce the birth certificate, it's over and done with." He later again demanded that Obama "[s]how the birth certificate" and asked, "Why won't they release the birth certificate?" From the March 24, 2011, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): First of all. What's the deal? Produce the birth certificate, it's over, done with. Chris Matthews wants it.

[...]

BERNARD McGUIRK (Imus in the Morning Executive Producer): Show the birth certificate--

HANNITY: Show the birth certificate.

McGUIRK: Get it over with.

HANNITY: Get it over with.

CAROLINE HELDMAN: Wait, what does Indonesia have to do with being born in the United States? How is that material to whether or not he was born in the United States? What is the logic?

HANNITY: Why won't they release the birth certificate?

HELDMAN: What is the logic? What's the connection?

HANNITY: Why don't they just release it and get it over with? And, we don't have to talk about it --

HELDMAN: Because it's insulting.

JESSICA EHRLICH: In fact, I'm tired of talking about it now.

HANNITY: So the only reason they don't release it is because it insults him. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/24/11]

Hannity Said It's "Not True" That Obama Has Shown His Birth Certificate. On the March 25, 2011, edition of his show, Hannity stated: "Do I think he was [born in America]? Yes. Do I think this is odd that they won't produce the birth certificate? It's beginning to get odd to me." Hannity later stated that it's "not true" that Obama has shown his birth certificate. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/25/11]

Eric Bolling

Fox Host Eric Bolling: “There Is A Legitimate Question As To Whether Or Not The President Of The United States Is Allowed To Be President Of The United States.” After the president released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, Fox's Follow The Money host Eric Bolling questioned the validity of the released birth certificate, stating, “You have to ask the question, has this been photoshopped?”:

ERIC BOLLING: We haven't touched this birth certificate issue since it began. We haven't touched it, but there is a legitimate question as to whether or not the president of the United States is allowed to be president of the United States. It is written in the constitution. You have to be a natural born citizen of America. I mean, it's an issue.

JUAN WILLIAMS: No, it isn't an issue, Eric. This issue has been settled since he was running for president even when he's in the Senate and produced the short form for people. Just never been an issue.

It's been something that has been elevated to some kind of -- they've used this as a surrogate I think to belittle the president. People who don't like his policies who think that they never voted for him, how can this guy be president. It is racially tinged. It is a damaging subject.

BOLLING: I just have tell you for purposefully, we didn't touch it because we didn't think it was an issue until I saw this document. When I saw the green border, the Photoshop border around the birth certificate, I said wait a minute.

This thing isn't a pure copy from a book, a ledger from Hawaii. This thing has been altered. Someone's playing with it. Once that came out, I said we have to at least ask the question Juan.That's all. We're not claiming it is ill legit whatever, but someone is playing around with this document. [Follow The Money, 4/27/2011, via Nexis; Media Matters, 6/13/11]

Lou Dobbs

Fox Host Lou Dobbs: The Birth Certificate Provided By Obama Is Not "The Real Document." While still employed by CNN, Lou Dobbs, who is not a Fox host, helped mainstream the birther conspiracy. On July 15, 2009, Dobbs cast doubt on the adequacy of the birth certificate posted by FactCheck.org, suggesting that the birth certificate was not “the real document.” [Media Matters, 11/10/10]

Dobbs: "Liberal Media” Is "Trying To Knock Down The Issue Of President Obama’s Birth Certificate." On his July 21, 2009, radio show, Dobbs said that "there's certain quarters of the national liberal media that are just absolutely trying to knock down the issue of President Obama's birth certificate -- his certificate of live birth. And it's funny, because this is an issue that I get a lot of calls on from time to time and we -- and what we talk about is the fact that a certificate of live birth is not a birth certificate. It isn't the original document." [United Stations Radio Networks, The Lou Dobbs Show; 7/21/09]

Thomas McInerney

Fox News Military Analyst Thomas McInerney: There Are “Widespread And Legitimate Concerns That The President Is Constutionally Ineligible To Hold Office.” In an affidavit reported on August 31, 2010, by birther site WorldNetDaily, Thomas McInerney, a retired lieutenant general who served as a Fox News military analyst, said that he believed there are "widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office." He also expressed support for an Army officer who is currently awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from his commanding officers "until the president produces his original birth certificate." From McInerney’s 2010 affidavit:

For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that LTC Lakin's request for discovery relating to the President's birth record in Hawaii is absolutely essential to determining not merely his guilt or innocence but to reassuring all military personnel once and for all for this President whether his service as Commander in Chief is Constitutionally proper. He is the one single person in the Chain of Command that the Constitution demands proof of natural born citizenship. This determination is fundamental to our Republic, where civilian control over the military is the rule. According to the Constitution, the Commander is Chief must now, in the face of serious -- and widely-held -- concerns that he is ineligible, either voluntarily establish his eligibility by authorizing release of his birth records or this court must authorize their discovery. The invasion of his privacy is utterly trivial compared to the issues at stake here. Our military MUST have confidence their Commander in Chief lawfully holds his office and absent which confidence grievous consequences may ensue. [Media Matters, 9/1/10]

Bill Cowan

Fox News Contributor Bill Cowan: "We May Not Know For Another 100 Years" If Obama's "Legitimate." In 2014, Bill Cowan told a Tea Party gathering, "We may not know for another 100 years" if President Barack Obama is a "legitimate" American and suggested he lacks "a real, legitimate birth certificate." From the August 11, 2014, question and answer portion of Cowan’s speech:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is -- more and more coming up on the Internet, daily. Is this man a legitimate American? Is he a legitimate president? And I don't think so, that's my personal opinion.

BILL COWAN: You may be right. You may absolutely be right. And here's part of the issue. Is he legitimate? We don't know and we may not know for another 100 years. But the problem is we're living in the real world right now, and the real world is he was sworn in to be our president. And even if tomorrow somebody found a real, legitimate birth certificate from somewhere else that said he couldn't be our president, the legal process to push that through and get him out would far exceed the rest of the time he has in office. That's the problem we're facing so we're stuck with the guy but here's the point that I liked that you make me remember. That no matter what our complaints are about him, no matter what he does right or does wrong, mostly wrong, he's not running for office again. So at the end of the day it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter, because we're going to be electing someone else next time and if we're not careful, it's going to be Hillary Clinton. We're going to be right where we are now. [Media Matters, 8/13/14]

Jeanine Pirro

Fox Host Jeanine Pirro: Obama "Is Refusing To Show His Birth Certificate." In April 2011, Fox host Jeanine Pirro said to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, "What do you think of the fact that the president is refusing to show his birth certificate?" From the April 9, 2011, edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

JEANINE PIRRO: What do you think of the fact that the president is refusing to show his birth certificate. And I've heard that number before -- $2 million that he's spending to not have to show the birth certificate. There's a difference between a birth certificate, apparently, and a certificate of live birth. But what do you think? Is that relevant? [Media Matters, 4/20/11]

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