After stalling, the old-line media is beginning to cover the controversy around the failure of our political system to test Barack Obama’s eligibility under the U.S. Constitution to serve as president. For months now, Internet-launched campaigns have flooded traditional newsrooms with tens of thousands of personalized faxes, e-mails and petitions, all with the goal of spurring coverage. But old-line coverage persistently is riddled with errors, full of vitriol and dishonesty.

Most of the coverage carries the same tone as this Miami Herald headline, “Here’s the truth: ‘Birther’ claims are just plain nuts.” But let’s do more than name-calling and examine the arguments in the old-line media stories. Their arguments fall into three categories.

Their first line of argument is evidenced by this sentence from the Kansas City Star: “White House aides say only that Obama has produced his birth certificate. That’s true. It is a birth certificate, issued by the state Health Department and acceptable to prove citizenship to the federal government for purposes of obtaining a passport. It’s also true that it isn’t THE original birth certificate.”

We call this the “what I’ve produced is good enough” argument. Most coverage then references the website, which has a dubious record and is funded by the same Annenberg Foundation that funneled money to Obama’s early career. Sorry, but our days of trusting government officials and their echo choir in the media are over.

Now watch the red-hot eligibility story on DVD: “A Question of Eligibility: Is Obama’s presidency constitutionally legitimate?”

If old-line media had done any basic research, they would have found that the electronic computer-generated document produced by the Obama campaign wasn’t even accepted by Hawaii for admittance to native land programs in 2008. These forms are prone to fraud because of the rules in place in 1961 when as many as 40 percent of Hawaiian births were still at home. “Clearing the Smoke on Obama’s Eligibility: An Intelligence Investigator’s June 10 Report” at points out:

“In 1961, if a person was born in Hawaii but not attended by a physician or midwife, then, up to the first birthday of the child, a “Delayed Certificate” could be filed, which required that “a summary statement of the evidence submitted in support of the acceptance for delayed filing or the alteration [of a file] shall be endorsed on the certificates,” which “evidence shall be kept in a special permanent file.” (See Section 57- 9, 18, 19 & 20 of the Territorial Public Health Statistics Act in the 1955 Revised Laws of Hawaii which was in effect in 1961.) In other words, this form of vault birth certificate, the Delayed Certificate, required no more than a statement before a government bureaucrat by one of the parents or (the law does not seem to us clear on this) one of Barack Obama’s grandparents. If the latter is true, Ann Dunham did not have to be present for this statement or even in the country.”

The second line of argument is: Trust newspaper announcements of the birth that also show Hawaii as the location. But careful analysis shows the secondary source is dependent upon the first. For example, carefully read this sentence from the McClatchy News Service: “Also, the two Honolulu newspapers report that they carried brief announcements of the birth of a boy to the Obamas in 1961. Said the Aug. 13 birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser: ‘Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy, son, Aug. 4.’ The Hawaii state Health Department says it supplied the lists of births for those announcements.”

A Certification of Live Birth from a delayed filing could have triggered these birth announcements. The only way to ascertain that the computer-generated form and subsequent newspaper announcements are accurate is to see the original long form certificate Obama refuses to release. Only the long form will verify that Obama was born at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children, as he claims.

The third argument used is no argument at all but a tactic. The tactic is to ridicule the questioner. This tactic is typified by this sentence from Bill Maher published in the Los Angeles Times commentary section: “And there’s nothing anyone can do to convince these folks. You could hand them, in person, the original birth certificate and have a video of Obama emerging from the womb with Don Ho singing in the background … and they still wouldn’t believe it.”

Sorry, Bill, until Barack Obama issues his long form birth certificate, as George Bush, John McCain and Bill Clinton have done, and it provides a doctor’s name and a birth location, please don’t tell us to shut up.

We intend to keep searching for the truth. Barack Obama was born long before the era of computer-generated forms; we have a right see the actual document that proves he is qualified under the Constitution to be America’s president.




Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are columnists and best-selling authors. Floyd is president of the Western Center for Journalism. An archive of their writings is available at

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.