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Fox News Legitimizes Birthers

Reported by Ellen - July 14, 2009 -

Perhaps desperate for new ways to undermine Barack Obama’s presidency, Fox News has joined forces with the “birthers,” the fringe who irrationally claim that Obama’s presidency is illegitimate because he was not born in the U.S. As Think Progress has reported, Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate is widely available on the internet. FactCheck.org has also extensively researched the subject. Their conclusion: Born in the U.S.A. But Fox News has started reporting on birthers without noting the baselessness of their claims, and in ways that lend legitimacy to their efforts. With video.

During Special Report’s Political Grapevine segment tonight (7/14/09), Bret Baier announced (at about 40 seconds into the first video below), “A U.S. soldier who has been ordered to Afghanistan is refusing to go… (saying) President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is ineligible to be Commander-in-Chief. A Columbus, Georgia newspaper reports (the soldier) has filed a request in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order on his deployment. (His) attorney is involved in a second case that challenges the legitimacy of the Obama presidency. The Los Angeles Times reports a California judge has agreed to hear the merits of that case.” As a banner on the screen read, “PERSISTENT PROBLEM” next to a photo of Obama and the U.S. Supreme Court, Baier added, “It is just one of dozens of legal challenges to the president’s nationality.”

But rather than inform his viewers that those “challenges” have been thoroughly debunked, Baier presented the issue as a he said/she said, adding, “At least two of them have already been dismissed by the Supreme Court. The White House press secretary again Monday brushed aside the matter, saying, quote, ‘The noble truth is that the president was born in Hawaii, a state of the United States of America.’” Baier never pointed out that Obama's American birth certificate has been produced and authenticated.

Sean Hannity presented the same story during his Hannity’s America segment. He likewise failed to note in any way the illegitimacy of the claim, or the availability of Obama's birth certificate. Instead, Hannity characterized the case as “controversial." He said, (at a little more than two minutes into the second video below), “At least one soldier is now refusing to go (to Afghanistan, as part of President Obama’s surge). Now, according to Georgia’s Ledger-Enquirer newspaper, (the soldier) doesn’t believe that President Obama can send troops overseas because (the soldier) says that Mr. Obama was not born in the U.S.A. Now, (the soldier) plans to argue that controversial claim in a federal courtroom in Georgia on Thursday, just one day after he was ordered to report for duty.”

In fact, the Ledger-Enquirer had already reported that the Army has revoked the soldier’s deployment orders, although the reason has not been released.

But the most egregious example is on Fox’s “fair and balanced” website, Fox Nation. There a headline a reads, “Obama Birth Certificate Challenge Wins Small Court Victory,” once again implying that the claim may have at least some merit. Even worse, above the headline is a large photo of Obama in a turban. It’s hard to believe that the photo and headline were chosen for any other reason than to raise the suggestion that Obama is, in fact, foreign. The article that the headline links to, from the Los Angeles Times, makes it clear that the “court victory” is a procedural one. The Times noted that there are reasons to doubt the case will ever be fully aired, that similar claims have fared poorly in court. But there is no mention of that on Fox Nation, itself, and no mention that the “controversy” over Obama’s birth certificate has been completely investigated and put to rest by rational people. There was also no mention that one of the plaintiffs in this California case is Pastor Wiley Drake, who has admitted to praying for the death of President Obama. Baier similarly failed to point that out to the "we report, you decide" network's viewers.

In May, Fox Nation "asked" if Obama should release his birth certificate.