New analysis from the Washington Post removes any doubt that the anti-Obama Birther movement was started in 2007 and 2008 by Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and her Democrat supporters.
As Breitbart News reported earlier this month, other left-wing media outlets, like Politico and the Guardian, had already traced the Birther movement back to Democrats and Ms. Clinton. Using his wayback machine on Wednesday, the Post‘s David Weigel took an in-depth look at the origins of the false rumors that President Obama is a practicing Muslim who was not born in a America. Weigel’s reporting contains the final pieces of a very disturbing puzzle.
What Weigel found and re-reported was astounding, details many of us had forgotten or never heard of, including a 2007 bombshell memo from the Clinton campaign’s chief strategist.
What the left-wing Weigel left out of his reporting was even more astounding, including a documented confrontation between Clinton and Obama over the Birther issue, and video of Hillary herself stoking doubt about Obama’s Christian faith.
Because the Washington Post‘s primary job is to protect Democrats, Weigel’s headline and conclusion are an objective lie. Despite the fact that what he uncovered (and chose to not cover) points directly to Ms. Clinton and her campaign, Weigel concludes she had nothing to do with the Birther movement.
Naturally, Weigel’s own facts support the exact opposite conclusion.
His research, however, is all that matters.
Defcon 4: Mark Penn’s March 2007 Strategy Memo
Everything began in March of 2007 when Hillary’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, wrote a now-infamous campaign memo laying out his overall plan to win the election.
Weigel sums up the Birther elements of Penn’s memo as a nothingburger; indeed, according to Weigel, the memo actually proves that the Clinton campaign wanted nothing to do with Birtherism: “But Penn wrote that as a warning, not a strategy,” Weigel writes.
While most of Weigel’s lies in his defense of Clinton are of omission and deflection, the wrist-flicking of Penn’s memo is pure audacity.
Because this is important, I’m not asking anyone to believe my interpretation of the memo. You can read the memo for yourself here. Below are two mainstream media sources. [emphasis added] As you’ll see, the idea that the memo was a warning against “othering” Obama is preposterous:
[Penn] wrote, “I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.” Penn proposed targeting Obama’s “lack of American roots.”
The idea of going after Obama’s otherness dates back to the last presidential election—and to Democrats. … Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, recognized this potential vulnerability in Obama and sought to exploit it. … Penn wrote: … “[H]is roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and his values.”
Penn also suggested how the campaign might take advantage of this. “Every speech should contain the line that you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century,” he advised Clinton. “And talk about the basic bargain as about [sic] the deeply American values you grew up with, learned as a child, and that drive you today.” He went on: “Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t … Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds [of campaign events].”
Bloomberg adds: “Penn was not a birther.”
His memo didn’t raise the issue of Obama’s citizenship. Furthermore, he was acutely aware of the political danger that a Democrat would court by going after Obama in this way, even subliminally: “We are never going to say anything about his background,” he wrote.
That is what the memo said. The truth, though, is that the attacks on Obama’s background would come the following year, and those attacks would not only come from Hillary’s supporters but directly from her own campaign and her own mouth during a nationally televised 60 Minutes interview.
In March of 2007, the campaign could afford to attack Obama’s otherness “subliminally.”
By the following year, as the primary losses mounted, the gloves came completely off.
Defcon 3: Hillary Clinton and Her Supporters Birth ‘Birtherism’
Weigel’s superb reporting uncovered how the Clinton campaign and legions of diehard Clinton supporters took Penn’s othering campaign and the questions surrounding Obama’s faith and birthplace to the next level.
It was no longer subliminal.
By now Clinton’s 2008 presidential aspirations were in serious jeopardy. Pay special attention to what Weigel writes about John Heilemann. Weigel’s lie of omission here is crucial and I’ll address it below: [emphasis added]
According to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin in Game Change, the most ludicrous “othering” theory that Clinton allies engaged in was that a tape existed, somewhere, of Michelle Obama denouncing “whitey” — and that Clinton herself believed it when consigliere Sid Blumenthal talked about it.
But the Clinton campaign never pursued the idea that Obama was literally not American, and therefore ineligible for the presidency. A small group of hardcore Clinton supporters did. Specifically, anyone reading the fringe Web in the summer of 2008 could find the now-defunct blog called TexasDarlin, the now-defunct blog PUMAParty, and the now-conservative blog HillBuzz posting updates on the hunt for a birth certificate. It was a thin reed, and they knew it.
“It looks like Obama was born in Hawaii, based on a recently discovered birth announcement found in a Hawaiian newspaper,” one HillBuzz blogger wrote in July 2008. “It also looks like the reason Obama refuses to produce his actual birth certificate is that it very likely records dual Kenyan and U.S. citizenship at Obama’s birth.”
Weigel’s sleight of hand here is genius. Let’s unpack the lies of omission.
1. Weigel uses Bloomberg’s John Heilemann as a witness for the defense of Hillary but intentionally chooses not to tell his readers that a mere two days earlier, on Monday, Heilemann confirmed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the Birther movement began with the Clinton campaign.
Again, I’m going to quote a left-wing source:
Host Joe Scarborough called Clinton’s attack on Trump “rich,” saying, “For Hillary Clinton to come out and criticize anybody for spreading the rumors about Barack Obama, when it all started … with her and her campaign passing things around in the Democratic primary[.] … This started with Hillary Clinton, and it was spread by the Clinton team in 2008.” …
Heilemann, author of the insider account of the 2008 election Game Change, said it was the case that Clinton spread the rumors. “It was the case,” he said. “I’m affirming the Scarborough-Brzezinski assertion.”
2. Weigel also chose not to report:
It was not until April 2008, at the height of the intensely bitter Democratic presidential primary process, that the touch paper was properly lit.
An anonymous email circulated by supporters of Mrs. Clinton, Mr Obama’s main rival for the party’s nomination, thrust a new allegation into the national spotlight — that he had not been born in Hawaii.
3. Pretending to be naïve, Weigel uses these third party Democrat attacks on Obama’s identity as proof! that Hillary’s hands are clean, you know, because it’s her supporters raising the conspiracy, and not Hillary.
Apparently, it’s only Republicans who are held accountable for the actions of their supporters.
Apparently, only Republicans are capable of coordinating with outside groups to do their dirty work.
Despite more smoke than you’ll find in Jeff Spicoli’s van, Weigel uses that smoke as proof that there is no fire. This isn’t journalism, it’s desperate partisan spin.
4. Weigel says nothing about the Clinton campaign’s shattering silence during this smear campaign.
5. Weigel doesn’t want his readers to know that Barack Obama himself believes Hillary Clinton started the Birther rumors, even though this fact was reported by no less than Weigel’s own employer at The Washington Post:
Obama and Clinton were both at Reagan National Airport on their way to Iowa for a  debate, and the candidates met on the tarmac for what became a brief but heated conversation. Then-Obama personal aide Reggie Love witnessed the event and describes it in his new memoir:
[Obama] very respectfully told her the apology was kind, but largely meaningless, given the emails it was rumored her camp had been sending out labeling him as a Muslim. Before he could finish his sentence, she exploded on Obama. In a matter of seconds, she went from composed to furious. It had not been Obama’s intention to upset her, but he wasn’t going to play the fool either.
Why Weigel chose to leave all of this crucial information out is obvious.
Defcon 2: The Clinton Campaign’s Obama-Is-a-Scary-Muslim Emails
Weigel writes: “In December 2007, a Clinton campaign worker named Judy Rose sent an e-mail asking whether Obama was a secret Muslim who intended to destroy America from the inside. She was fired and denounced.”
Here’s what Weigel doesn’t tell his readers:
- The email wasn’t meant for public consumption. It was an internal email sent to just a handful of Democrats.
- Rose was only fired after the media discovered the email.
- Rose wasn’t merely a “Clinton campaign worker,” she was the volunteer chair of the Clinton campaign in Jones County, Iowa.
- A second Clinton staffer resigned just a few days later for the same offense.
- The emails were sent just a little more than a month before the crucial January of 2008 Iowa Caucus, which Hillary lost.
Defcon 1: The Obama-In-a-Turban Photo
Weigel writes: “Three months later, when the Drudge Report claimed that a photo of Obama wearing a turban was sent from “stressed Clinton staffers,” the Clinton campaign denounced it but didn’t find a scalp.”
This is Weigel glossing over one of the most crucial elements in Hillary’s Birther campaign. Here is the photo in question…
…and Weigel not only buries and downplays this seismic campaign moment in the middle of a paragraph; laughably, his witness in defense of Hillary is the Hillary Clinton campaign. Because they couldn’t find who did it — “a scalp” — we’re asked to conclude that the campaign is innocent.
Here’s what Weigel doesn’t tell his readers:
1. The Obama campaign believes the photo came from the Clinton campaign.
Another left-wing source:
Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, described it as “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election”. Obama has had to spend much of the campaign stressing he is a Christian not a Muslim and did not study at a madrassa. …
Plouffe described circulation of the picture as part of “a disturbing pattern.” “It’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties,” he said.
2. Again, Weigel ignores crucial information published by one of his own employers, in this case his former-employer Slate.
After the Drudge splash, Plouffe released the statement above condemning the Clinton campaign at 9:29 am. Less than two hours later, Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams shot back with a response that, as Slate notes, “never refuted Drudge’s piece.”
Then, at 10:54 a.m., Clinton’s campaign manager, Maggie Williams, pierced the quiet with her own release. “Enough,” she wrote. “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.” She goes on to say Obama is trying to “distract from the serious issues.” Note that they never refuted Drudge’s piece. (More detail on that piece of the story is trickling in .)
Let’s take a moment to review: Obama’s campaign thinks Clinton is trying to be divisive by encouraging the Obama-is-a-Muslim myth. Clinton’s campaign thinks the Obama campaign is being divisive because it thinks Clinton’s campaign is being divisive.
The Clinton campaign would eventually deny sending the photo, but only after it became obvious that the release of the photo was blowing up in their face.
Mushroom Cloud: Hillary’s “As far as I know,” or Weigel’s ‘Big Lie’ of Omission
In his attempt to let Hillary off the hook, it is imperative that Weigel not remind his readers that in March of 2008, in the middle of her campaign’s Birthernado, and on no less than 60 Minutes, Hillary herself stoked the Birther rumors.
Obama is not a Muslim “as far as I know,” Clinton told Steve Kroft.
Hillary Clinton Is Birther Zero
My singling out of Weigel is a bit unfair. But it was his reporting that put the final details into place. And what he’s attempting to do is what most of the mainstream media is attempting to do: protect Hillary from her own racist past with half-truths and the omission of facts.
Once you do what the mainstream media refuses: put all the facts together as I did here, only those who don’t believe in science would let Hillary off the hook.
Here are the facts:
- More than a full year before anyone would hear of Orly Taitz, the Birther strategy was first laid out in the Penn memo.
- The “othering” foundation was built subliminally by the Clinton campaign itself.
- Democrats and Clinton campaign surrogates did the dirtiest of the dirty work: openly spread the Birther lies.
- Staffers in Hillary’s actual campaign used email to spread the lies among other Democrats (this was a Democrat primary after all — so that is the only well you needed to poison a month before a primary).
- The campaign released the turban photo.
- Hillary herself used 60 Minutes to further stoke these lies.
Of course Hillary Clinton is the grandmother of the Birther Movement. But now that she might be the only thing between a Republican and the White House, Dave Weigel’s reverting back to JournoList form, as is the rest of the media.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC