WorldNetDaily (WND) Editor-in-Chief Joseph Farah really wants the world to know he’s serious about President Obama’s birth certificate, even if most of the world seems to have completely lost interest. After exhaustively demanding that the president produce his long-form birth certificate and then claiming that the certificate Obama did release was fake, Farah has sued Esquire magazine for publishing an online article parodying his dog-with-a-bone mission.
A complaint filed in federal court in the District of Columbia this week accuses Esquire, reporter Mark Warren and parent company Hearst Communications Inc. of defaming WND . The Esquire article, which was tagged as “humor,” said that Farah had decided to pulp 200,000 brand-new copies of Jerome Corsi’s Where’s The Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, published by WND. The book was about to go on sale when Obama released his birth certificate, in effect making Farah, WND, Corsi and the title of Corsi’s book all look ridiculous.
The lawsuit demands almost $300 million.
Corsi is a senior staff writer for WND, as well as a prominent right-wing attack dog — he wrote a book savaging John Kerry’s Swift Boat experience in Vietnam, among other things. For its part, WND is an ultra-conservative website that has long been a home for baseless conspiracy theories, persistent “birther” claims, and such counter-historical propaganda screeds as the new edition of the The Pink Swastika that it plans to put on sale soon. That book, written by anti-gay propaganist Scott Lively, claims without foundation that the Nazi Party was run by gay men who orchestrated the Holocaust.
Esquire doesn’t sound too worried. A spokesman for the magazine, who asked not to be identified per company policy, told Hatewatch, “It was satire. An age-old and completely legitimate form of expression. Additionally, the piece was tagged as ‘humor,’ as are all of our frequent satire posts on Esquire’s Politics Blog. This was not lost on our observant readers.”
Esquire’s May 18 parody “reported” that “Farah was ‘rip-shit’ when, on April 27, President Obama took the extraordinary step of personally releasing his ‘long-form’ birth certificate thus resolving the matter of Obama’s legitimacy for ‘anybody with a brain.’” A disclaimer added to the post hours later said, “We committed satire this morning to point out the problems with selling and marketing a book that has had its core premise and reason to exist gutted by the news cycles, several weeks in advance of publication. … Hell, even the president has a sense of humor about it all.” The disclaimer linked to Obama’s fundraising website, where a T-shirt for sale pictures Obama and the words “Made in the USA” with a scan of the birth certificate.
Larry Klayman, an attorney representing WND, said at a news conference that book sales and Corsi’s reputation had suffered as a result of the Esquire report, and that the magazine would “pay dearly.” “It was obviously calculated with malice to destroy, not just the book and its sales, but to destroy the reputations of Mr. Corsi and Mr. Farah.”
However, later when a reporter at the news conference yesterday at the National Press Club asked Farah to say which booksellers returned unsold copies of the book or canceled orders, Farah stumbled. “I don’t have the exact number off the top of my head,” Farah laughed. “I wish my memory was good enough to recall.”
Corsi’s Where’s the Birth Certificate? weighs in at 300 pages and has garnered widespread readership. It appeared on The New York Times’ Best Sellers list when it was released in May and remains a bestseller on Amazon. (Perhaps it’s no surprise that a large portion of the news conference to announce the lawsuit served as a promotion for the book.)
Unsurprisingly, Farah and Corsi have not abandoned their longstanding efforts – even as the issue has fallen from headlines and notable “birthers” like Donald Trump have abandoned it. Just this week, new headlines appeared on the WND site with claims against Obama’s citizenship. One reads, “Here’s how the Obama birth certificate was born,” while another asks, “Is Obama constitutionally eligible to serve?”
At the news conference, Farah vowed to continue on the “birther” mission. “The original long form birth certificate, if it exists, has not been released,” he insisted. “This book has presented arguments that have remained valid despite the efforts to kill the book.”