Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx
WASHINGTON – It’s the simple question that strikes fear into the hearts of some of the biggest media conglomerates in the U.S.
“Where’s the birth certificate?”
While outdoor advertising companies are gleefully accepting tobacco ads banned by government in other media, anti-God campaigns conducted by atheists and what some would characterize as soft-core porn, a national campaign that mentions no names, no political ideology, no political parties, contains no pictures and sells nothing has the billboard industry in a tizzy going for two years now.
The latest billboard company to run from the four-word question is Atlanta-based Adams Outdoor Advertising.
WND’s media buyer, Gretchen Shade, approached the Charlotte, N.C., office of Adams Outdoor about carrying the “Where’s the birth certificate?” message on one of its boards in the city – the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She was referred to Vice President Rick Steele in the corporate office in Atlanta who rejected it, saying he didn’t “think it would be good for the company.”
He added that there was a possibility it would offend local political figures.
Steele said the company had “worked very hard to have a good relationship with the mayor of Charlotte and didn’t want to upset that.” Anthony Foxx, a Democrat and close friend and political ally of Barack Obama, is the current mayor of Charlotte. Steele said part of his concern about the billboard was the recent announcement that the Democratic convention would be held in Charlotte.
Steele, however, said he would discuss the matter with Kevin Gleason, president and chief executive officer of Adams Outdoor. Gleason promised Shade the issue would be raised before all the company’s board members to deliberate on the matter. He promised to get back to Shade “with an official statement at the conclusion of that meeting.”
Billboard on Highway 93 near Kingman, Ariz.
Two days later, Steele called back to say: “Our answer is still the same with regard to doing the ad – we do not feel it would be good for the company.”
Adams officials expressed concern over having “permits pulled” by politicians.
Adams is the fifth outdoor advertising company to ban the “Where’s the birth certificate?” campaign from its billboards. The others are Lamar, Clear Channel, CBS and Steen Advertising. In addition, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a trade and lobbying group that claims to promote freedom of speech, has actually discouraged acceptance of the campaign.
The OAAA, headed by President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Fletcher, a Hillary Clinton financial contributor in 2008, reportedly advised some members not to accept ads from WND that asked, “Where’s the birth certificate?”
Fletcher, who refused to respond to WND inquiries about the action of the OAAA, points out on the group’s website that “outdoor advertising is regulated by multiple layers of government.”
Billboard in Anniston, Ala.
“Free expression?” guffawed Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND who has spearheaded the national billboard campaign. “We weren’t even asking for free expression. We were asking to pay for it.”
Farah has posted dozens of billboards across the country over the last two years and wants supporters to know there is no shortage of billboard space available for the message, which he believes has contributed significantly to the sweeping skepticism Americans have regarding Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office as shown in poll after poll.
The OAAA’s board of directors is dominated by top executives from the billboard industry – especially CBS, Clear Channel and Lamar, the three big players that explicitly turned down WND’s campaign without explanation.
Interestingly, however, it was the lobbying and trade association that first publicly labeled the birth certificate campaign “misleading.”
Just one day after WND broke the story of CBS’ rejection of the eligibility billboard campaign, the OAAA issued a press release defending the decision.
“What was strange about this, from my perspective, was that no one – not even me – questioned an outdoor advertising company’s right to reject the campaign,” said Farah. “We simply reported the fact that this giant media conglomerate, that Rush Limbaugh would probably characterize as part of the ‘state-run media,’ was doing what we have witnessed the Big Media do over and over again – protect Obama at all costs, even from simple questions.”
Billboard along I-35 near the Highway 59 exit near Ottawa, Kan.
Since OAAA’s job is lobbying for influence in Washington and negotiating the hurdles of a heavily regulated industry, it is understandable, Farah says, that it jumped to the defense of the president.
“Such is the danger of the state-run media,” he said. “Gone is the day that big corporate media companies would support a principle like free expression if it might result in trouble from Big Brother.”
Nevertheless, Farah says, the “billboard cartel” is not preventing a major expansion of the campaign.
“I want everyone to understand there are still plenty of billboards available to lease,” Farah said. “Many supporters of this campaign have gotten the wrong impression – that we simply have been shut out of further billboard purchases by this political suppression. That is not the case. We could buy billboards every single day if we had the financial support we had when this campaign began. There are still plenty of independent outdoor advertising companies happy to accept our money and our campaign.”
Farah’s “Where’s the birth certificate?” campaign is credited with giving new life to doubts about Obama’s eligibility now held by at least 58 percent of the American people, according to the latest national public opinion survey by CNN.
Before the campaign was launched, only half of Americans were even aware of the controversy.
Farah is asking all those who agree that the constitutional eligibility of the president is of paramount importance for the future of the country to contribute financially to extending the campaign through 2012.
“Every day we hear from Americans seeing these billboards,” said Farah. “Many of them congratulate us on the work. Others are just now being introduced to the questions that have been systematically stonewalled by the major media. I believe this campaign has raised more awareness of the issue than just about anything else. And I believe we are reaching critical mass in getting to the bottom of the mystery.”
Farah says his immediate goal is to help persuade several state legislatures to pass simple, straightforward bills requiring eligibility tests for presidential candidates – especially for “natural born citizenship.”
“As I have said many times, if Obama didn’t have something to hide, he would have long ago produced the original birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii August 4, 1961, as he claims,” said Farah. “Just such legislation is pending right now in Texas and is expected to be introduced in several other states in 2011. When that happens, I am firmly convinced Obama will decide not to run again. At that point, an investigation needs to be launched by Congress to determine whether he was ever eligible to serve and whether any of his initiatives and actions as president are legitimate.”
Farah says that despite the ban on his message by the outdoor advertising cartel there are plenty of billboard locations available throughout the country – most of them at bargain prices because of the Obama recession.
“The average billboard we place costs about $4,000 a month,” Farah points out. “Yes, we have had some donated. We’ve had some wonderful outdoor advertising companies that have discounted their boards because they like our campaign. But, at the end of the day, we’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this campaign – and we need help from the public. We believe it’s the most important way any citizen can make his voice heard on this issue.”
Only limited funds prevent the campaign from growing faster, Farah said.
“It’s true that the outdoor advertising cartel, owned by major media conglomerates like Clear Channel, CBS and Lamar, have steadfastly refused to post our message because they want to curry favor with regulators in Washington,” Farah said. “These companies have no problem with soft-core porn, with ads renouncing God and with outrageous vulgarity. But they do have a problem with political speech – with a simple, non-threatening question like, ‘Where’s the birth certificate?’ It’s an unbelievable double-standard by companies that are supposed to be in the First Amendment business. But, then again, look at how their parent companies have treated this issue in their news coverage.”
In addition to the billboard campaign, Farah has:
- produced a
video-documentary primer on the issue called “A Question of Eligibility”;
- produced a 40-page
special report on the subject;
- manufactured yard and
rally signs to bring attention to the topic;
- pledged to donate at
least $15,000 to any hospital in Hawaii or anywhere else that provides proof Obama was
born there and given you an opportunity to raise the amount;
- created a line of
T-shirts you can wear to appearances by the president to raise visibility of the issue;
- created a fund to which
you can donate to further the kind of investigative reporting into this matter only this
company has performed over the last two years;
- launched a line of
postcards you can use to keep the issue alive;
- distributed thousands of
bumper stickers asking, “Where’s the birth certificate?”;
most notably, gathered more than 500,000 names on a petition demanding any and all
controlling legal authorities in this matter take appropriate action to see the
requirements of the Constitution of the United States are followed;
- gathered another
25,000 names on a second petition attempting to rally state officials to make presidential
candidates prove their eligibility before getting on ballots.
“There are all kinds of things we need to do right now to get our country back on track, but I can think of nothing more important than for us to see that our Constitution is observed, followed, adhered to and honored, especially when it comes to such simple, straightforward matters as the eligibility of the president of the United States,” says Farah. “Please help me bring this matter to a head right now.”