Not this time, Captain Hoodwink. (No, Hillary didn’t start the birther movement.)

One of the things that we attempt to do here at the Skeptic’s blog is to point out propaganda when we see it. Today is one of those days. Yesterday we wrote about the Donald’s acknowledgement last Friday that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States.” While this was step in the right direction – for the Donald to finally acknowledge that the whole birther controversy was an outright lie and falsehood – we also wrote what so many other pundits and commentators have been writing, which is “not so fast” Donald.

trump-geyser

Because the Donald clearly intends to reverse his position and then not have to explain the reversal or apologize for the fact that he had been intentionally and unjustifiable trying to demean President Obama on an issue that no thinking person would ever buy into. If you are a thinking person, you would know that the Republican Party, whatever else they may be, are NOT so incompetent as to allow an adversary to assume the Presidency if there were any chance at all that he did not meet one of the few explicit requirements for becoming President of the United States.

You would have to believe that the Republican Party, a party that if anything is known for its Machiavellian tactics – see the Wikipedia entries for Lee Atwater and Karl Rove if you don’t know what I mean – was so asleep at the switch that they allowed a despised adversary to assume the nation’s highest office TWICE without bringing as Constitutional challenge.

The birther movement was founded on an abject and obviously provable lie. And that is Trump’s legacy.

In his Friday announcement, Trump tried to slip another abject and provable lie into his 10 word announcement admitting that he was wrong, and announcement so short that it would have left 79 characters left on a single twitter post.

His new lie is the proclamation that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy.”

Trump then unjustifiable claimed credit by adding “I finished it.”

Yesterday I wrote that even ABC’s fact-checking this claim gives it more credibility than it deserves. But alas, our political environment is now so poisoned and there are so many people out there who hate Hillary even though they cannot articulate why[1], that as many as 40% of our electorate will probably believe that Hillary had something to do with the birther movement.

So, let’s debunk that little nugget even though it shouldn’t need any debunking at all.

The basis for the claim that Hillary’s 2008 Presidential campaign had something to do with the Birther movement is a story from Politico that was published in 2011. As patiently explained by Factcheck.org Politico wrote on April 22, 2011, that “At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama.” The notion that Obama wasn’t born in the United States was supposedly that something.

Unfortunately for people who actually care about the truth, the Hillary campaign had nothing to do with the Birther movement. What did happen was that Philip Berg, a former Deputy Pennsylvania Attorney General and a Clinton supporter filed a lawsuit over Obama’s birth certificate. Berg’s suit was dismissed on grounds that he had no legal standing to file it. One of the authors of the Politico story, Byron Tau, admitted to FactCheck.org that although they looked, “we never found any links between the Clinton campaign and the rumors in 2008.”

The other coauthor of the Politico story, Ben Smith, now the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, previously told MSNBC during a 2013 interview that the conspiracy theories traced back to “some of [Hillary Clinton’s] passionate supporters.” But he said the theories did not come from “Clinton herself or her staff.”

That’s it. That’s the whole basis for this rumor.

It should also be mentioned, as explained by Factcheck.org, that On March 19, 2007, then Clinton adviser Mark Penn wrote a strategy memo to Clinton that identified Obama’s “lack of American roots” as something that “could hold him back.” That memo cited Obama’s “boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii” as life experiences that made his “basic American values … at best limited.” But Penn’s memo did not question Obama’s birthplace or his birth certificate. It advised Clinton to contrast her life experiences in middle America “without turning negative.”

As Buzzfeed noted, Trump tweeted in August 2012 that “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” In September of that year, Trump shared via Twitter an article claiming the birth certificate was fake. In a June 2014 tweet, Trump boasted, “I was the one who got Obama to release his birth certificate, or whatever that was!” And in 2013 he retweeted someone who alleged the long-form birth certificate was “a computer generated forgery.”

The Donald, as we should all know by now, is an asshole. But he’s also a lying, conning asshole who, like Fox News, will proclaim anything loudly and then, when caught in the lie, will just move on without explanation or apology.

Not this time Captain Hoodwink. It appears that the media has actually gotten so fed up with being lied to that they are – miracle of miracles – pushing back. Not this time, Captain Hoodwink.


[1] People who hate Hillary usually point to her being “dishonest” and that she somehow jeopardized our national security with the use of her private email server. The answer to which should really be a giant collective eye roll and a sigh of OH PLEASE! Compared to the Donald Hillary is the patron saint of honesty. While Hillary sometimes prevaricates and can be defensive, the Donald is provably and unambiguously a compulsive liar. In addition, the same people who are so up in arms about Hillary’s private email server conveniently have complete amnesia when it comes to the 22 million emails that the Bush White House lost during the U.S. Attorneys scandal.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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