I’m sure some people were surprised yesterday when I asked Hillary Clinton about her role in the President Obama birther rumors.
Lemon: “People have been saying on-air here, and I’ve been reporting it on CNN and I’ve been reporting it here, that you were the person behind the whole birther thing and that the senator at the time, the President-elect, actually confronted you about that. Do you care to respond? Did you or your campaign start the whole birther thing? And did you have a confrontation with the President?”
Clinton: “That is so—no. That is so ludicrous, Don. You know, honestly, I just believe that—first of all, it’s totally untrue. Secondly, the President and I have never had any kind of confrontation like that. This is such a bad example of what’s wrong with instantaneous reactions and Americans getting all worked up and people feeding prejudice and paranoia, like Donald Trump. Obviously all of us have to stand against it. I have been blamed for nearly everything. That was a new one to me.”
Boy am I glad I asked because every night on CNN someone, usually a Trump supporter, accuses Mrs. Clinton of starting the rumors back during the 2008 election that then senator Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
Earlier in the week Donald Trump tweeted “Just remember, the birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton in 2008. She was all in!”
And yesterday speaking in front of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, Trump doubled down by saying this:
And Hillary, who’s become very shrill, you know the word shrill, she’s become shrill. She was saying, ‘Oh, what I said about Obama…’ In 2008, she was the original birther! She was the one that started that whole thing! Hillary is a birther! By the way, don’t switch your votes to Hillary, please, but Hillary is the one who started it. Check it out, 2008.”
Senator Ted Cruz, on the campaign trail, has made the same assertions about Hillary Clinton.
So what is the real truth?
Did Hillary Clinton or her campaign start the birther movement, which Donald Trump then picked up and forced President Obama to produce his birth certificate which finally proved Obama was born in Hawaii and not in Kenya?
According to www.FactCheck.org which has “written about the issue of Obama’s birthplace on multiple occasions — indeed we were the first media organization to hold his birth certificate in our hot little hands and vouch for the authenticity of it. But facts have done little to squelch the conspiracy theories that continue to bounce around online.”
FactCheck.org contends the theory “first emerged in the spring of 2008, as Clinton supporters circulated an anonymous email questioning Obama’s citizenship.”
Days later the site states that other articles started to crop up citing an anonymous email being circulated by Clinton supporters.
The fact check goes on to state that the chain of emails began bouncing around the internet, and “one of the first lawsuits over Obama’s birth certificate was filed by Philip Berg, a former deputy Pennsylvania attorney general and self-described “moderate to liberal” who supported Clinton.
But still there was no evidence that Hillary nor her official campaign had anything to do with the birther theories.
One of the writers of the original stories, which appeared in Politico, told FactCheck.org that (quote) “we never found any links between the Clinton campaign and rumors in 2008.”
Other reporters who wrote about it the issue conveyed similar accounts to FactCheck.org.
Fast forward to now, 2015, FactCheck.org says it asked both the Cruz and Trump campaigns for proof or backup material to their claims but neither responded and provided no compelling evidence that either Clinton or her campaign had anything to do with the so-called birther movement.
So, without “compelling” proof thus far, the rumor that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement is just that, a rumor.
And even though it is repeated with emphasis, does not make it true.