Media Matters is disseminating audio from Sean Hannity’s December 8, radio show, in which he takes a challenge from a caller over his support for conservative website WorldNetDaily, which is also one of the Right’s most aggressive advocates of paranoia over President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. As Kathy Shaidle has extensively covered, Media Matters likes to play fast & loose with prominent conservatives’ words, but this time, they seem to have caught Hannity skirting too close to Birtherism for comfort:
HANNITY: We were told early on that, in fact, somebody else had looked at it and confirmed that it was legitimate. So, I mean, what was wrong with people saying, wait a minute, y’know, in light of the fact where, your, your father came from, etc., uh, let’s just make sure that this is a legitimate birth certificate. What was so wrong with raising that question?
CALLER: It’s been asked and answered-
HANNITY: No, no, no, no, it was asked, it was not asked by the mainstream media; it was asked by places like WorldNetDaily, who I think were just doing due diligence considering it’s a constitutional mandate.
CALLER: But it’s a dead issue now, right?
HANNITY: No, you don’t like the fact that they asked a question, and I find that amazing to me when it is-
CALLER: No, I mean, come on. [unintelligible] investigated it, Ann Coulter investigated it, all these people investigated it, certainly had every motivation to say that Obama’s not a citizen, and they all said, “guess what?”
HANNITY: I tell you what I think you’re missing here, I think a lot of people were just afraid to ask the question.
Maybe it was legitimate to ask when the story first broke, but regardless of who did the original asking, the caller is right that it has been repeatedly investigated, answered, and should be a dead issue now. During the 2008 campaign, blogger John Hawkins ran down the case against Birtherism for Townhall.com:
– The people at FactCheck.org have seen the certificate of live birth provided from the state of Hawaii to the Obama campaign and it is genuine.
– Although Hawaii state law prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record, the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health has certified that Obama does have a legitimate birth certificate on file in Hawaii.
– In a print copy of the 1961 Honolulu Advertiser, there’s a notice that Barack Obama was born. In and of itself, this is a game, set, match conversation-ender on this subject unless people want to argue that this isn’t genuine or that there was a conspiracy going all the way back to the day of Obama’s birth to make him President.
A few additional points: FactCheck.org is not infallible, but their report on the birth certificate is substantive and detailed. Hawaii’s Health Director, Chiyome Fukino, is a Republican. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the Right’s most prominent (and most conservative) voices have all rejected Birtherism.
WorldNetDaily, however, obsessively clings to any bizarre hypothetical that might explain how a Kenyan-born Obama got illicit citizenship credentials (indeed, their front page still hosts links to their full coverage of Birthergate, “Where’s the birth certificate?” postcards, and a petition demanding that the President release the certificate). This isn’t due diligence; it’s a cottage industry.
As David Swindle has pointed out, Birtherism is a poison to conservative credibility, and by drinking it we play right into the Left’s propagandizing hands. Sean Hannity’s defense of “asking questions” is all well and good, but for all our sakes, he needs to recognize the difference between asking a question and ignoring the answer.