Another Right-Wing Media Conspiracy: Obama Played “Rope-A-Dope” On Birther Issue

Following the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, elements of the conservative media have run with the conspiracy theory that Obama delayed releasing the document in order to play “rope-a-dope” with birthers or to distract from other issues. This comes as other right-wing media figures have hyped other conspiracy theories such as the claim that the birth certificate was Photoshopped.

Conservative Media Suggest Obama Delayed Release Of Birth Certificate To Gain Advantage Over Republicans

Malkin: “It Was To The Democrats And ... White House's Great Advantage To Allow This Birther Circus To Play Out As Long As It Did.” On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin claimed Obama allowed the birther issue “to play out as long as it did” because it was to his “great advantage.” She stated:

MALKIN: Well, it had to happen sometime. And I think it's definitely fair game to question Obama's boast about his unprecedented transparency when it took him this long. I also think it's obvious why it took him this long: It was to the Democrats and to the White House's great advantage to allow this birther circus to play out as long as it did. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/28/11]

RedState: “He Could Have Stopped The Nonsense At Any Time. He Didn't Because It Served His Purposes.” In an April 27 RedState post titled, “President Obama's Birth Certificate: Why Now?” Melissa Clouthier wrote: “President Obama coughed up his birth certificate today. So, the question is: How is this good for Obama?” Clouthier claimed Obama released the certificate to “stomp on” news of changes in Defense Department personnel and concluded: “What did President Obama talk about to the press today? His birth certificate. He could have stopped the nonsense at any time. He didn't because it served his purposes. He put his birth certificate out there today. Why? It served his purposes. The birth certificate rumors no longer help President Obama.” [RedState, 4/27/11]

Rove: “He Had The Ability To Release It Last Year And End The Issue, But He Wanted To Play Rope-A-Dope With Republicans.” According to a Politico article, Fox News contributor Karl Rove claimed that the birther issue was a “useful diversion” for Obama because he “has hoped Republicans would continue to talk about it, thereby damaging their own credibility.” From the article:

Republicans, however, suspect that Obama had been riding a tiger that was showing signs of getting hungry.

“The president himself has hoped Republicans would continue to talk about it, thereby damaging their own credibility,” said Republican strategist Karl Rove. “It was a useful diversion.

”But take a look at recent polls," Rove added. “The problem was the view was taking hold among independents. He got worried it was about to spin out of control.”

The Republican suggested it was cynical of Obama to wait until now to disclose the long-form.

“He had the ability to release it last year and end the issue, but he wanted to play rope-a-dope with Republicans,” Rove said. [Politico, 4/28/11]

Fox's Fred Barnes: “Now We Know Who Kept” The Birther Issue “Alive -- It Was President Obama.” On Special Report, Fox News contributor Fred Barnes addressed the birth certificate story, saying that “now we know who kept” the issue “alive -- it was President Obama.” From the segment:

BRET BAIER (host): But clearly the president wouldn't have come out if it wasn't for Donald Trump?

BARNES: Well, maybe not. But Donald Trump fueled the issue. I mean, Donald Trump probably did have an effect by raising the issue relentlessly for the last few weeks affected the poll numbers for President Obama, and he did come out. Anyway, Trump's a loser in this. But then the president -- think of all those charges by Democrats charging Republicans for being despicable, for this low blow by keeping this birther issue alive. Now we know who kept it alive -- it was President Obama. He could have released that birth certificate anytime.

Now he says, oh, it's because the silliness out there and it's detracting from his speech. I mean, that's preposterous. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 4/27/11]

Hannity Guest Alice Stewart Asks If Obama Released His Birth Certificate As A “Distraction.” Discussing Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate on Fox News' Hannity, Republican strategist Alice Stewart suggested Obama released it as a “distraction” from more important issues like national security and the economy. From the show:

SEAN HANNITY (host): We've got this big issue involving the birth certificate and I was never -- this was never a defining issue for me, but I found it odd. All the president had to do is what he did today: release it, move on, and we're out of the way. Why did he wait so long?

FRAN TARKENTON (former NFL player): Well, he said it came out because it was a distraction and I think that he is probably going to want to go back and lose his birth certificate again because we know he doesn't have any plan to get more jobs, to cut the deficit, in Libya or wherever, and so he might like that distraction in the future.

HANNITY: That's a good point.

STEWART: And the problem is, first of all, is that it should've been two and a half years ago, but the fact he does it today, you know, was it a distraction? We had a major shift in the national security team. We had Bernanke talking about the economy. And he's up there, admittedly talking about something he himself calls silly. This is -- if it's so silly, then why engage in it? Put your press secretary out there. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/27/11]

Johnson: “I Think It Was Done ... As A Distraction.” On the April 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. agreed with co-host Brian Kilmeade's suggestion that the “president [is] trying to play the victim card,” claiming he was trying to “build sympathy and empathy from the base and from some independents and say, 'Well, listen, I've really been the subject of a vile campaign against me.' ” Johnson later claimed, “I think the president's premise [for] coming out [is] wrong, and I think it was done ... as a distraction.” He continued:

JOHNSON: He complained that it was a distraction and that it was silliness. Obviously, there are tremendous issues that could be exposed in a nationally televised press conference by the president, so it is a distraction in some ways.


KILMEADE: The [poll] numbers are there to be a distraction.

JOHNSON: I guess they're a distraction, but it's a grander distraction to go out and do a press conference of it. There's other ways of handling it. ... It's kind of unique to have the president stand up at a nationally televised press conference and talk about his birth certificate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/28/11]

Fox's Tantaros: Obama “Had The Opportunity To Silence Suspicion” In 2008. In a opinion piece, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros blamed Obama for "[l]etting" the birth certificate issue “fester,” writing:

When the Clinton camp first brought up the birth certificate issue in 2008, then candidate Obama's camp had the opportunity to silence the suspicion that he wasn't born in Hawaii. Instead of releasing the long form certificate then, his campaign released a live birth form that many have questioned ever since. When it comes to public relations, if you have access to all the information you're being asked about, it's in your best interest to release everything as soon as possible to avoid more media and appearing as if you're hiding something.

Letting it fester. For over two years, the narrative that the President wasn't really born here had swirled on blogs and in chat rooms since it was never totally addressed with the full certificate. Over the last 28 months the President had every opportunity to have one of his staffers quietly release the certificate on a random Friday afternoon, or even this Friday afternoon when the world will be watching the royal wedding in London, not at 9:45 am on a Wednesday morning two and a half years into his term. [, 4/27/11]

NRO's Goldberg Suggests Obama Delayed Release To Cast His Opponents “As Paranoid Nuts.” In a blog post titled, “The New Burning Question,” National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg asked: “Why did the WH take such sweet time releasing” Obama's Birth Certificate?" Goldberg then wrote: “Could it be that this White House, continuing a tactic used by Democrats for years, actually liked being able to cast their opponents -- often through guilt by association -- as paranoid nuts? No, that couldn't possibly be it.” He later updated the post, writing: “For the record, I don't actually think this is the ”new burning question" in the sense that it must rise to the top of the national conversation. I just think it's odd. Call it a low simmering question if you must." [National Review Online, 4/27/11]

Right-Wing Media Have Forwarded Other Bogus Conspiracy Theories

Right-Wing Media Claim Birth Certificate Is Fake Or Has Been Altered. Fox Business host Eric Bolling claimed that part of the long-form birth certificate “had to be Photoshopped in.” Right-wing blogger Pam Geller claimed that it's not a birth certificate but “a certification of a live birth.” She also asked why the White House released “such an obvious forgery.” Others, including Matt Drudge, Alex Jones, and Jim Hoft, have promoted the conspiracy theory that the document is fake. However, National Review Online stated that it “looked into” the Photoshop theory and “dismissed it.” [Media Matters, 4/28/11]

Bolling And Geller Raise Questions About Doctor Who Delivered Obama. Both Bolling and Geller suggested it was suspicious that the widow of the doctor listed on Obama's long-form birth certificate said she had no idea that her husband had delivered baby Obama. However, at the time the doctor in question died in 2003, Obama was a little-known state senator from Illinois, meaning that it was not at all unlikely that the doctor never told his wife about delivering Obama. [Media Matters, 4/28/11]