Fox News: A comfortable home for birthers

Following polls that show Americans increasingly believe (wrongly) that President Obama is a Muslim, conservative media figures predictably blamed Obama for this perception. There have been many lowlights, but you'd be hard-pressed to outdo Brian Kilmeade suggesting Obama should have “kept his name as Barry and not Barack” if he “was worried” about people thinking he's Muslim. In finding increasingly absurd ways to blame Obama for conspiracy theories about him, conservatives have conveniently ignored their own role in relentlessly promoting them.

Closely tied to the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim is the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama has a fake birth certificate.

Despite the fact that this conspiracy is, you know, insane, it refuses to die. As we noted yesterday, Fox News military analyst Thomas McInerney told conservative publication/birther central WorldNetDaily that he believes there are “widespread and legitimate concerns that the President is constitutionally ineligible to hold office” and expressed support for an Army officer who is awaiting a court-martial for refusing to obey orders from commanding officers “until the president produces his original birth certificate.” McInerney is far from the only birther associated with Fox News.

Sean Hannity - who has dipped his toe in the birther pool in the past by asking what's wrong with asking if Obama has a “legitimate birth certificate” - is hosting widely discredited smear artist, birther extraordinaire, and WND “reporter” Jerome Corsi tonight as part of his “Great American Panel.”

Corsi has been one of the main promoters of Birtherism online, churning out countless articles on the subject for WorldNetDaily (sample headlines: “Doubts persist about Obama birth certificate, Considerable evidence still points to candidate's birth in Kenya”; “New doubts revealed in Obama's nativity story”; “Just who delivered baby Barack Obama?”).

Two weeks before the 2008 election, Corsi joined Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh in suggesting that Obama was not visiting Hawaii to see his ailing grandmother, but was instead on a secret mission to deal with rumors about his birth certificate. During an appearance on the October 22, 2008 edition of convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy's radio show, Corsi said:

I'm headed out to Honolulu. I am not convinced that Barack Obama is going because his grandmother is sick. I appreciate that his grandmother is sick and he wants to be with her. I do recall that Barack Obama's mother died of cancer, and he didn't go to be by her side when she died. He relates that in his autobiography, Dreams From My Father. And I'm going out to do what digging I can on the birth certificate.

Corsi has previously taken to Fox News to push Birtherism. In August 2008, Corsi appeared on Fox & Friends, where he claimed that the Obama campaign posted a “false, fake birth certificate” on their website. He based this expert opinion on “good analysis of it on the internet.” At the time, the Hawaii Department of Health had already confirmed that the birth certificate posted online by the Obama campaign was a “valid Hawaii state birth certificate.”

In addition to Corsi, Hannity regularly hosts WND columnist Aaron Klein, who has also pushed birther conspiracy theories - including in his most recent book, which Hannity helped him promote.

Now maybe -- just maybe -- one of the reasons widespread confusion exists about Obama's birthplace and faith has something to do with the fact that supposed news outlets like Fox News lend credibility to the main proponents of these ridiculous conspiracy theories by treating them as respectable commentators.

Or it could be Obama's fault.