Birther Story Dead? HAHAHAHAHA!

July 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments

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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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Northeast Elizabeth // Jul 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Klein places too much confidence in the power of evidence to overwhelm the hobgoblins of true believers

    Since you’re apparently a member of the reality-based community, why don’t you explain this statement last Fall from Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino which completely destroys Klein’s theory:

    “Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai‘i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.” 

    If state officials examined the original in 2008 to verify the contents of the short form, they could not have destroyed it in 2001. So either they are lying about having destroyed it (so that they don’t have to release it), or they are lying about having confirmed Obama’s birthplace with the original last year.

  • 2 Kevin Moore // Jul 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Or they are incompetently handling public records. Or one division is not in touch with another division. Or the director “personally” saw the record in the digital archive, and not the piece of paper — keeping in mind that digital archives are created with metadata to ensure provenance and authenticity.

    One thing I have not heard a reasonable theory for is: Why would the State of Hawaii fake anyone’s birth certificate? Obama’s election was not a forgone conclusion, nor was his nomination by the Democratic Party, if you recall the primary fight with Clinton. When he announced his candidacy in 2007, most people thought it was premature or a test-run. Given all of that, why would the Hawaii Health Dpt risk its reputation (not to mention serious criminal charges) to game the system for a dark horse candidate?

    PolitiFact has been reporting on this issue for a long time, and they ask a question similar to mine:

    It is possible that Obama conspired his way to the precipice of the world’s biggest job, involving a vast network of people and government agencies over decades of lies. Anything’s possible.

    But step back and look at the overwhelming evidence to the contrary and your sense of what’s reasonable has to take over.

    There is not one shred of evidence to disprove PolitiFact’s conclusion that the candidate’s name is Barack Hussein Obama, or to support allegations that the birth certificate he released isn’t authentic.

    And that’s true no matter how many people cling to some hint of doubt and use the Internet to fuel their innate sense of distrust.

  • 3 Northeast Elizabeth // Jul 27, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Kevin, the whole premise of your post was that Klein was justified in declaring the story “dead” because the 1961 original was discarded and isn’t available. That the crazy birthers should just go away because the 2007 COLB is now all they can ever hope to get. But now you admit that they CAN either release the 1961 original, or an exact digital scan of it. Which is exactly all Dobbs was asking for.

    As to your question about why would Hawaii fake a certificate, I’ll get to that in a minute. But (on a related theme), I guess I’m really compelled to ask you this: Why on Earth would the President of CNN claim that the original was unavailable when it so clearly can be produced in paper or digital image form; why would he ask Dobbs to stop asking for its production on that erroneous basis; why would countless bloggers and talking heads accept Klein’s explanation; why hasn’t Klein retracted his statement and demanded the release of the original or a scanned fascimile? Sounds like a conspiracy to me. How can I ever trust a word Klein utters from now on?

    So, why would Hawaii fake a birth certificate? Just for clarity’s sake, let me emphasize that no one is claiming that certification that that Obama has posted is a fake or doctored copy of the 1961 original, which was a longer, typewritten form which included the name of the delivering doctor and the hospital. What’s being questioned is whether the 2007 COLB accurately reflects the information that is on the 1961 original. As you noted, the staff of the Department of Health may be a bunch of incompetent, uncoordinated bumblers. We have no idea whether the data entry clerk properly read or interpreted the information and notations that were on the 1961 original. For all we know, since he or she knew she was dealing with Hawaii birth certificates, he or she typed “Hawaii” for the birthplace of every person. That’s why birthers want to see the original.

    So the real question is, why would Hawaii officials who have viewed the 1961 original misrepresent that the 2007 accurately reflects what’s on the original? Well, actually, they haven’t. They’ve been very careful to make NO STATEMENT that the birthplace on the 1961 original is the same as the birthplace on the 2007 COLB. You can scour the internet and satisfy yourself as to that fact. In fact, what they’ve said is that they’re prohibited by law from saying what’s on the 1961 original. Yes, they’ve made statements to the effect that the 2007 COLB is an “official” birth certificate, but they’ve made no representations as to the accuracy of what’ s in it. So technically they’re not “faking” anything. But we’re nowhere close to knowing the truth.

  • 4 Kevin Moore // Jul 27, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Well, I thought the premise of my post was that Klein was placing too much faith in digital archiving and the authoritativeness of government officials; i.e., he was wrong to think the story would be killed by the say-so of the guvmint.

    If no one is questioning the certification, then why the hoopla? I honestly don’t get this controversy or this conspiracy theory. I really doubt the right wingers who are screaming that a Kenyan has taken over the presidency care about the difficulties of digital archiving. This is simply an excuse to question the legitimacy of a president they don’t like.

    And it’s a sideshow. I can think of any number of legitimate criticisms of Obama – start with the handling of Guantanamo and infinite detention policies, or the use of predator drones, or the selling out to the health insurance industry, or the toxic assets liquidation bonanza for investors, or….