“CONSPIRACY” OR TRUTH?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 13, 2017) — At 10:41 p.m. EDT on Wednesday’s “Hannity” show, commentator and attorney Danielle McLaughlin invoked “the birther conspiracy” in reacting to the White House’s call for an ESPN reporter to be fired for having termed Trump a “white nationalist.”
The reporter, Jemele Hill, has been treated differently than other ESPN employees who made controversial comments in the past, Fox News reported on Wednesday.
McLaughlin, who self-identifies as “liberal,” said that the White House’s reaction to Hill’s comments equates to the hypothetical suggested firing of Trump from his previous NBC television show, “The Apprentice” for perpetrating “the birther conspiracy.”
The pejorative “birther” refers to the questions which arose in 2007 over Barack Hussein Obama’s birthplace, citizenship, documentation, identity, and constitutional eligibility for the office of the president.
Early in 2011, as Trump was considering a run for Oval Office, he publicly pressed Obama to release his original birth certificate amid credible reports issued over a number of years stating that Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president to be a “natural born Citizen.” While much controversy has ensued over the exact meaning of the term used by the Framers, most Americans agree that at a minimum, “natural born Citizen” signifies “born in the United States.”
Whether or not the person’s parents, at the time of his birth, must also have been U.S. citizens is a point of contention among those who have studied and written about the issue. Obama claims a birth in Honolulu, HI to a U.S.-citizen mother and British-citizen father.
The contradictions arising from conflicting media reports as to Obama’s birthplace and early years have never been reconciled.
On April 7, 2011, Trump claimed that he sent investigators to Hawaii with the purpose of discovering whether or not Obama had actually been born there, speculating that “one of the greatest cons in the history of politics and beyond” could be uncovered.
Trump did not reveal the results of the probe, if it went forward.
On April 27, 2011, the Obama White House posted an image said to portray Obama’s original “long-form” birth certificate from Hawaii which was later found by a criminal investigation to be a “computer-generated forgery.”
The stated findings of several well-known graphics experts played a role in prompting 242 individuals to request then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio to commission an investigation in August 2011.
Arpaio’s lead investigator, former New Jersey detective Mike Zullo, revealed evidence at three press conferences between March 2012 and December 2016 to explain his determination that not only is the birth certificate image fraudulent, but also Obama’s proffered Selective Service registration form supplied by the Selective Service System to an unknown number of FOIA requesters.
Zullo revealed that two independent forensic analysts approaching their analysis of the image from differing disciplines reached conclusions similar to his own.
At the conclusion of the December 15, 2016, Arpaio stated that not all of the evidence gathered by the investigation was released but that it would be provided to federal authorities.
In October 2016, Arpaio was charged with misdemeanor criminal contempt in association with a civil lawsuit claiming that he discriminated against Hispanics via the deployment of his immigration patrols. Arpaio’s July 31, 2017 conviction was “trumped” by a presidential pardon issued on August 25.
The forgery of a government document is a federal-level felony. Congress has refused to launch its own probe into Zullo’s announced conclusions, and the media has ridiculed rather than investigated the claims.
According to Zullo, Hannity had extended an invitation to him to appear on his show following the first press conference on March 1, 2012 but that the booking was rescinded shortly before the program was to air.
Based on McLaughlin’s comment, the “birther” label is now a familiar term with the American public.