Robert Farley of Politifact misleads about Obama certificate issue

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On July 1, Robert Farley of Politifact offered "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs "lied" when he said President Obama's birth certificate is posted on the Internet" [1] about an ad WorldNetDaily ran regarding a question Les Kinsolving asked at a press conference (described here). See [1] for the details; this post will detail how Farley is misleading and will provide yet more reasons not to trust Politifact.

It's first worth noting Farley's dismissive tone; given that, can anyone expect him to give the Obama citizenship issue a fair treatment? He writes:

When we spoke to a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, she said too much was being made of the difference between the so-called "long" and "short" forms.

"They're just words," said spokeswoman Janice Okubo. "That (what was posted on the Internet) is considered a birth certificate from the state of Hawaii."

"There's only one form of birth certificate," she said, and it's been the same since the 1980s. Birth certificates evolve over the decades, she said, and there are no doubt differences between the way birth certificates looked when Obama was born and now.

"When you request a birth certificate, the one you get looks exactly like the one posted on his site," she said. "That's the birth certificate."

As for the theory that Obama's original birth certificate might show he was foreign-born, Okubo said the "Certification of Live Birth" would say so. Obama's does not. Again, it says he was born in Honolulu

It's difficult to trust both Okubo and Farley given this picture on WND's site of a long-form certificate. It's very different from the short-form version, and the person whose certificate it is says he obtained it in 1998. Clearly, someone isn't telling the truth. Could the person at the last link have faked it up? That's certainly a possibility, and if Politifact would like to claim it as a possibility then they're also admitting that Obama having faked the picture on his website is a possibility. Would they like to do that, and thereby admit that part of their determination is based on their obvious trust in Obama rather than simply trusting in the facts that are known?

Based on my opinion, the person at the last link didn't fake up his certificate, and Okubo is either mistaken or is lying. As for Farley, why didn't he call her on her statement? Surely, Farley must have seen the WND page linked above as part of his research, or even done something as simple as typing long form birth certificate hawaii into Google images? That WND page and others are right there on the first page of search results. Given the above, can you trust Farley's reporting? If he didn't know about the picture of the long-form certificate, what sort of researcher is he? If he did know, why didn't he call Okubo on her statements?

Further, the quote above assumes that what's shown on Obama's site (one of which has since disappeared) accurately reflects what (if anything) he received. It's certainly unlikely that Obama modified what (if anything) he received, but Farley is making assumptions rather than only relying on what's known.

There's more:

We have one more thing. We talked to reporter Will Hoover, who wrote a well-researched story for the Honolulu Advertiser on Nov. 9, 2008, about Obama's childhood years in the the Aloha State. It ran under the headline "Obama Slept Here."

In researching the story, he went to the microfilm archives and found the birth announcement for Obama. Actually, he found two of them, one in his Honululu Advertiser on Aug. 13 , 1961, and in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin the next day . They both said the same thing: "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4."

But here's the thing. Newspaper officials he checked with confirmed those notices came from the state Department of Health.

"That's not the kind of stuff a family member calls in and says, 'Hey, can you put this in?'" Hoover explained.

Take a second and think about that. In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers - on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States.

Hoover's article isn't exactly an example of no-holds-barred investigative journalism. For instance, could anyone find the same reporter discussing, say, the various lies Obama has told about other issues? From Hoover's article (link):

She said someone posted the address on the Internet. That July posting contained a photocopy of what is most likely the first mention of Barack Obama ever published — a tiny, one-line birth notice in the Sunday, Aug. 13, 1961, edition of The Honolulu Advertiser:

"Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4."

The exact same notice appeared the following day in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The numerous birth announcements above and below the Obama listing also were identical in both papers, which were unaffiliated, competing publications.

Advertiser columnist and former Star-Bulletin managing editor Dave Shapiro was not at either paper in 1961, but he remembers how the birth notices process worked years later when both papers were jointly operated by the Hawaii Newspaper Agency - which no longer exists.

"Those were listings that came over from the state Department of Health," he said. "They would send the same thing to both papers."

If "[n]ewspaper officials he checked with confirmed those notices came from the state Department of Health" as Hoover and Farley now claim, why wasn't that in the original article? Wouldn't it have been trivially easy for Hoover to have include that? Instead, in the article all Hoover offered is someone who wasn't even there at the time remembering how things were done in later years. Perhaps Hoover should get those officials on record as stating that such notices would only have come from the Department of Health. If Hoover is telling the truth - something that's not certain - he'd need to prove that there was no other way that such notices could come from private parties.

Note also that Farley is engaging in a standard strawman, failing to note there are other reasons that a relative might have planted those notices, namely in case of a divorce battle. Since even Mickey Kaus has floated that as a possibility months ago, why didn't Farley admit that as a possibility? Doesn't his last paragraph above sound more like something that an Obama-supporting sockpuppet would write?

And, Farley doesn't mention that neither announcement indicate where or in which hospital Obama was born. Both announcements only list the supposed address of his parents. The announcements aspect of this is full of holes, and Farley is trying to paper over the holes.

While more could be said, let's end on this:

Our friends from FactCheck.org went to Chicago, held the document in their questioning hands and examined it closely. Their conclusion: It's legit.

That's simply their opinion, and it's clear that FactCheck wasn't interested in getting the truth of the matter but, as with Farley, simply supporting Obama. FactCheck had their staffers look at the certificate; they didn't call in outside document experts. Several problems with just that aspect are listed here. Given that millions of dollars of counterfeit bills enter circulation each year (link), how exactly is the opinion of non-experts - especially those who clearly had an agenda - meaningful? Based on their past entries, FactCheck is not exactly a credible source.

UPDATE: The date of the Politifact article appears to be July 1, not June 17 as previously stated.

[1] politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/jul/01/worldnetdaily/birthers-claim
-gibbs-lied-when-he-said-obamas-birt

Comments

Just another Washington faggot who rather than risk saying something that might offend a 'person of color' will instead show himself to be a weak-minded fool. Embarrassing.

Hey genius, If you look at the bottom left hand corner of BHO Birth cert, it clearly states that it is form revision (11/01). I cannot believe your in-depth analysis of this document didn't expose this bit of information. I also like the way you left out the borders and any revision data from the one you claim was obtained in 1998. Could the differences be because President Obama's form is of a later revision? Ignorance and Machevellian attempts at manipulation of truth are disgraceful. Have you no friggin shame what-so-ever??

Who has no shame? You folks are nuts. Calling someone a "Washington faggot". And then to state that the investigation of FActcheck.org was their "opinion" but your points of view are facts? Yes, you are nucking futs. Since you seem to run with your own view of conspiratorial plans that span five decades and involve numerous government officials that would create this Machiavellian (you can't even spell it right) plan, you might want to include the plan of how he reentered the country under a U.S. passport obtained overseas (there would be a record), or that he reentered illegally as a child. Racist, ignorant, looney, and actually quite amusing. Keep this alive and he is certain to run for the full eight years. Maybe we will turn that corner to rebuild the country that Bush burned down in 8years.