According to Gawker, CNN president Jon Klein put the kibosh on Lou Dobbs’ promotion of the “birther” conspiracy theory. In an e-mail sent to Dobbs and the rest of the news network, Klein forwards an explanation from the Hawaii Health Department he contends “seems to definitively answer the question” of the origins of Barack Obama’s birth, concluding. “it seems this story is dead.” Here’s the forwarded message:

*In 2001 – the state of Hawaii Health Department went paperless.*Paper documents were discarded*The official record of Obama’s birth is now an official ELECTRONIC record Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Health Department told the Honolulu Star Bulletin, “At that time, all information for births from 1908 (on) was put into electronic files for consistent reporting,” she said.

Oh, okay. Certainly this explanation will mollify the conspiracy-minded. “The government simply dropped the birth certificate down the memory hole and recreated it in a computer database. See? No problem. I said, no problem! Why are you lighting that torch? Put down that pitchfork!”

In light of the overheated response to Amazon’s deletion of pirated copies of Nineteen-Eightyfour, Klein places too much confidence in the power of evidence to overwhelm the hobgoblins of true believers. Comments to the Gawker story already wonder why the State of Hawaii did not transfer records to microfilm backup for historical archival purposes. A good question, if Hawaii in fact made that error, actually — but conspiracy-thunkers rarely restrain themselves within the bounds of legitimate inquiry. Not when there is so much racist speculation to divert them.

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