Following Donald Trump's lead, Fox News figures have recently embraced or promoted aspects of the birther conspiracy theory by falsely claiming that President Obama has not produced his birth certificate, or by hosting birthers to hype their discredited theories unchallenged.
Hannity: “Produce The Birth Certificate, It's Over And Done With.” On the March 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked: “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 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: First of all. What's the deal? Produce the birth certificate, it's over, done with. Chris Matthews wants it.
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.
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.
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 On Obama's Birth Certificate: “Can't They Just Produce It, And We Move On?” On the March 23 edition of his show, Hannity asked, “What do you think about this birth certificate issue? I mean, it has not been my main issue, but it kind of does get a little odd here after a while. Can't they just produce it and we move on?” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/23/11]
Hannity Asked, “Why Can't They Just Release The Birth Certificate?” On the March 25 edition of his show, Hannity stated, “Donald Trump brought up the issue of the birth certificate, and it's getting huge buzz around the country,” and later asked, “Why can't they just release the birth certificate, you know, and just move on?” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/25/11]
Hannity Said It's “Not True” That Obama Has Shown His Birth Certificate. Later on the March 25 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]
Hannity Says Obama Was Born In The U.S. But Demands That He “Show The Stupid Birth Certificate.” On the April 5 edition of his show, Hannity said that Obama was born in the United States but demanded that he “show the stupid birth certificate and move on.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/5/11]
Hannity Claimed The “Strongest Case” For Obama Being A Citizen Is Printed Birth Announcement. On the April 14 edition of his show, Hannity stated that the “strongest case” for Obama being born in Hawaii was “the announcement that was in one of the newspapers eight days after” he was born. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/14/11]
Hannity Defends Birthers: “Why Are They Crucified And Beaten Up And Smeared And Besmirched?” Interviewing WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah on the March 24 edition of his radio show, Hannity said that Farah has “been beaten up so badly in the press” for pursuing the birther issue and that birthers have been “crucified and beaten up and smeared and besmirched”:
HANNITY: 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 Wondered Why Trump's Birtherism Is “So Toxic,” Asks Panel For Their Birth Certificates. On the April 18 edition of Hannity, during a discussion about Trump's birther claims, Hannity asked why it's “so toxic to bring up” the birth certificate issue. He then asked his panelists for their birth certificates. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/18/11]
Hannity Provided Birther Platform For Trump In Interview. During the April 15 edition of his show, Hannity aired an interview in which he provided a platform for Trump's birther theories, including asking Trump what his investigators in Hawaii have found regarding Obama's birth. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/15/11]
Hannity Promotes Trump: His “Popularity” Is Due To Taking On “Controversial Issues,” Is A “Lesson” For Republicans. On the April 15 edition of his show, Hannity claimed that Trump's “popularity” provides “a lesson, here, for Republican candidates: Fight, fight -- take on controversial issues, don't back down, and battle.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/15/11]
Hannity Jumped Aboard “Trump 2012” -- Birtherism And All. During the April 15 edition of his show, Hannity helped to promote Trump's birther claims, later airing a graphic promoting a “Trump 2012” presidential run. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/15/11]
Palin On Trump Allegedly Sending Researchers To Hawaii To Investigate Obama's Birth: “More Power To Him.” On the April 9 edition of Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin said of Trump's claim that he sent researchers to Hawaii to investigate Obama's birth certificate: “More power to him.” Palin later stated, “I think that [Obama] was born in Hawaii, because there was the birth announcement put in the newspaper, but obviously, if there's something there that the president doesn't want people to see on that birth certificate, that he [seems to] be going to great lengths to make sure that it isn't shown, and that's kind of perplexing for a lot of people.” From Justice with Judge Jeanine:
JEANINE PIRRO (host): All right, Governor. Donald Trump, who is considering a run for the presidency, says that he's got investigators in Hawaii looking for President Obama's birth certificate. What do you make of that?
PALIN: Well, I appreciate that the Donald wants to spend his resources in getting to the bottom of something that so interests him and many Americans. You know, more power to him. He's not just throwing stones and - from the sidelines. He's digging in there; he's paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate. So, you know, more power to him. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 4/9/11]
Palin Declared Trump Is “Being Really Treated Unfairly” By Media Over Birth Certificate Issue. From the April 19 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity:
PALIN: First, I do have respect for Donald Trump and for his candidness. I think people are craving that today in the world of political speak that we're coming out of the White House and the confusing messages that come from so many of our politicos, we appreciate that Donald Trump is so candid. Donald Trump is the one being really treated unfairly, I'd say though in the press when they're hammering him about the one issue he brought up and not been shy about and that's the birth certificate. He's merely answering reporters' questions about his views on the birth certificate and then reporters turn that around, saying, “That's all he's got. He's running on a birth certificate issue,” when that's not the case. Donald Trump is running on the issue bottom line that President Obama is so far over his head he has gotten us on the road to bankruptcy and insolvency and a less secure nation. And Trump and so many of us want to do something about that. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/19/11]
Doocy: “He Could End It Simply, Just Show [The Birth Certificate] To Us.” During an interview with Trump on the April 18 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 & Friends, 4/18/11]
Doocy: Birth Certificate Produced By Obama's Campaign “Is Not The Exact Birth Certificate.” After airing Trump's birther claims from an appearance on ABC's The View, Doocy stated during the March 24 edition of Fox & Friends that the Obama campaign “did produce - before the election - something called a certificate of live birth, which is not the exact birth certificate, but something that the state says indicates that he was born there.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/24/11]
“Bor[ed]” Of Birth Certificate Issue, O'Reilly Calls For Obama To “Put This Whole Thing To Bed.” On the April 8 edition of his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly said that the birth certificate issue is “getting boring” and that Obama should “put this whole thing to bed.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/8/11]
Pirro: Obama “Is Refusing To Show His Birth Certificate.” On the April 9 edition of Justice with Judge Jeanine, host Jeanine Pirro said to Palin, “What do you think of the fact that the president is refusing to show his birth certificate?” From Justice with Judge 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? [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 4/9/11]
Fox's Morris Reportedly Said Trump's Birther Claims Are “Within The Foul Lines.” In an April 3 article about Trump, the New York Post reported that Fox News contributor Dick Morris said that Trump's recent “birther talk” is “within the foul lines,” while “everyone else who spoke with The Post [sic] thinks it's a major tactical mistake.” [New York Post, 4/3/11]
Crowley: Myths About Obama Persist Because His Policies Are “Seriously Antithetical To American Values.” On the April 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley stated that Trump is “gaining traction” with the birth certificate issue because Obama has “adopted some policies that are seriously antithetical to American values: European-style socialized medicine, massive nanny state, big deficits, big government, big taxes. These are the things that rub the majority of the American people the wrong way. And it feeds into all of these things ... that he really isn't, quote, one of us.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/12/11]
Cashill On Kilmeade's Fox Radio Show: “Where's The Birth Certificate?” During the March 18 broadcast of his Fox News Radio program, host Brian Kilmeade gave more than 16 minutes of airtime to Obama conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill. During the interview, Cashill said that a reporter should ask Obama, “Where's the birth certificate?” [Fox News Radio, Kilmeade and Friends, 3/18/11]
Trump Told Unquestioning Fox & Friends Hosts, “I'm Starting To Wonder ... Whether Or Not [Obama] Was Born In This Country.” On March 28, 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]
Ratcheting Up Birtherism, Fox Hosted Trump To Call Birthers “Great Americans.” During the March 28 edition of Fox News' On the Record, Greta Van Susteren hosted Trump, who advanced his birther conspiracy theories. Van Susteren pointed out that Obama has a passport and one would need to submit a copy of their birth certificate in order to obtain a passport. Trump did not address this point, instead referring to birthers as “great Americans.” [Fox News, On The Record, 3/28/11]
Fox Nation Promoted Corsi's Upcoming Birther Book. On March 28, Fox Nation posted a video promoting a new book by discredited author and birther Jerome Corsi about Obama's birth certificate. [Fox Nation, 3/28/11]
Fox Nation Provided Platform For Trump Birtherism. A March 29 Fox Nation post promoted Trump releasing his “official” birth certificate. [Fox Nation, 3/29/11]
Fox Nation Again Celebrated Trump's Birther Claims By Saying He “Thump[ed] MSNBC Hosts On Obama's Birth Certificate.” An April 1 Fox Nation headline read, “Trump Thumps MSNBC Hosts on Obama's Birth Certificate.” Fox Nation linked to a video of Trump's appearance on MSNBC, in which Trump said, “I feel that there is certainly a chance [Obama] was not born in this country.” [Fox Nation, 4/1/11]
After Hosting Trump Birther Theories, Fox & Friends Increases Promotion Of Trump's Weekly Fox & Friends Appearances. Following Trump's then-newly announced birther theories, Fox News began to increase their promotion of Trump's regular weekly segment on Fox & Friends. [Media Matters, 4/3/11]
Fox Nation Continues To Promote Trump Birtherism: “Investigators ... Cannot Believe What They're Finding.” An April 7 Fox Nation headline stated, “Trump: I have Investigators in Hawaii... 'They Cannot Believe What They're Finding.' ” [Fox Nation, 4/7/11]
Van Susteren Gave Trump Free Reign To Repeat Birther Theories. During the April 11 of her Fox News program, Van Susteren gave Trump the opportunity and airtime to push his birther conspiracies and discuss his efforts in Hawaii to look into Obama's citizenship. [Fox News, On the Record, 4/11/11]
Obama Released Certificate June 2008. In June 2008, Obama's campaign made public a copy of Obama's certificate of live birth, which was published on the Internet by the campaign and numerous media outlets. Many experts, including a team from FactCheck.org, reviewed the document in person and determined it was authentic. From FactCheck:
FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as “supporting documents” to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said. [FactCheck.org, 8/21/08]
Hawaii Health Dept. Official Certified That She Had Personally Seen Obama's Birth Certificate. As USA Today reported on July 28, 2009, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, certified that she had personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the original records maintained by the Hawaii government. In a press release, Fukino stated:
“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago.” [USA Today, 7/28/09; Hawaii Department of Health press release, 7/27/09]
Salon's Elliot Debunked Claims That Obama Spent $2 Million “To Not Show His Birth Certificate.” Trump repeatedly claims that Obama spent $2 million dollars trying to prevent the release of his birth certificate. This claim appears to have originated from the conservative website WorldNetDaily and has been repeated by numerous right-wing media figures, such as Palin. However, Salon's Justin Elliot looked into the claim and reported:
While the $2 million figure has now been invoked thousands of times around the Web, it appears to have originated on WorldNetDaily, a right-wing news website that conducts original (and often unreliable) reporting on a variety of conspiracy theories.
Specifically, WND's Chelsea Schilling wrote a series of articles on the legal bills in 2009. See here, here and here. According to the WND articles, the Obama campaign paid $1.7 million in fees to the law firm Perkins Coie between October 2008 and October 2009.
Perkins Coie's Bob Bauer, who is now White House counsel, represented Obama in at least one birther lawsuit that WND has also written about. In 2009, Bauer fired off a brief letter to an attorney who brought a case questioning Obama's eligibility to be president. Bauer warned the attorney that the case was frivolous and asked him to stop pursuing it. (The case is called Hollister v. Soetoro -- with Soetoro referring to the name President Obama supposedly used as a child in Indonesia. It was recently appealed to the Supreme Court, which turned it down.)
The implication of the WND stories -- though not explicitly stated -- is that because Perkins Coie worked on a birther suit, and because the Obama campaign paid Perkins Coie $1.7 million, therefore the campaign paid $1.7 million fighting birther suits. That's an obvious logical fallacy.
Indeed, just last month Roll Call published a look at the Obama campaign's post-election legal spending -- now totaling $2.8 million, most of it to Perkins Coie. DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan told the paper: “The campaign has incurred ordinary legal expenses related to the wind-down of its operations and other legal services which all campaigns incur and which are proportional to the unprecedented size of this campaign.” Roll Call continued:
Legal costs for presidential campaigns can balloon following Election Day as these organizations face compliance issues and sometimes court cases stemming from the campaign season.
Sevugan said some legal fees were needed to defend the campaign against “unmeritorious” suits, including one challenging Obama's citizenship.
So, yes, it's clear that the Obama campaign has spent some money fighting so-called eligibility lawsuits. But the $2 million figure is baseless. [Salon.com, War Room, 4/11/11]