WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FACT-CHECKING?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 12, 2018) — An article published on Thursday by The Daily Caller misreports that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio accused Barack Hussein Obama of creating a forgery of his own long-form birth certificate.
Arpaio has never made such a claim.
After Arpaio announced on Tuesday that he would seek the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by the retiring Jeff Flake, mainstream media outlets requested interviews of the former six-term sheriff of the fourth-largest county in the United States.
On April 27, 2011, the Obama White House posted what it said was a scan of a certified copy of Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate allegedly obtained from the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH). The image was uploaded after then-businessman and reality-television star Donald Trump pressured the White House for approximately three months to release proof that Obama was born in the United States and, therefore, presumably eligible to serve as President of the United States.
Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires that the president and commander-in-chief be a “natural born Citizen.”
Beginning in January of that year, Trump had made a number of high-profile media appearances during which he expressed doubts that Obama was American-born or speculated that something significant in Obama’s background had been withheld from the American people.
Although released to much fanfare and covered by an adoring press on that Wednesday morning in late April 2011, several graphics experts declared the image a poorly-assembled forgery within hours or days of its appearance.
In August 2011, 242 constituents of Arpaio’s approached him with a petition requesting that he launch an investigation into the authenticity of the image so as to ensure that their votes in the upcoming 2012 presidential election would not be disenfranchised. Arpaio agreed, delegating the task to his “Cold Case Posse,” led by former New Jersey detective Mike Zullo.
Arpaio had fully expected to quickly “clear the president” once a preliminary analysis of the image was completed, but within several days, Zullo was forced to inform Arpaio that the image was highly problematic.
The investigation continued, ultimately lasting more than five years and concluding in December 2016. During a third and final press conference, Zullo revealed that two forensic analysts, one in Italy and one in Hawaii, had studied the image and agreed with his early conclusion that the image is a “computer-generated forgery.”
The mainstream media did its best to minimize, marginalize, or completely disregard the findings from the investigation and obviously continue to misrepresent them in new reportage since Arpaio declared his Senate candidacy.
While Zullo stated early in the investigation that he believed he had identified the individual(s) who had committed the forgery, neither he nor Arpaio ever stated that it was Obama himself.
As with many other mainstream outlets, The DC article describes Obama as “Hawaiian-born” utilizing the common media technique of focusing on Obama’s purported birthplace rather than the document forgery posted on an official government website.
The image was uploaded “with the intent to deceive,” Zullo has said in a number of interviews with The Post & Email and on Carl Gallups’s “Freedom Friday” radio show over the last five years.
The fourth paragraph of The DC article inaccurately states that Arpaio was given a pardon by Trump “after he was imprisoned.” Although convicted by U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton on July 31, 2017 of misdemeanor criminal contempt of court arising from a civil suit, Arpaio was never imprisoned. He faced the possibility of up to six months in jail, but a sentencing hearing for October 4, 2017 was vacated after Trump issued the pardon on August 25.