Hatewatch

WND Lawsuit Against Esquire Over ‘Birther’ Parody Dismissed

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., this week dismissed a lawsuit that WorldNetDaily (WND) Editor-in-Chief Joseph Farah filed against Esquire over a satirical article the magazine posted online claiming that Farah had recalled 20,000 copies of Jerome Corsi’s “birther” book.

The article, tagged as “humor,” said that WND was pulping Corsi’s Where’s The Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President. The book was about to go on sale when Obama released his long-form birth certificate, in effect making Farah, WND, Corsi and the title of Corsi’s book look ridiculous. WND’s complaint accused Esquire, reporter Mark Warren and parent company Hearst Communications Inc. of defaming WND and demanded nearly $250 million in damages.

This week, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer saw otherwise, ruling that Esquire’s article was protected under the First Amendment as satirical expression related to a matter of public interest.

The May 18, 2011, parody “reported” that “Farah was ‘rip-shit’ when … 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 later to the post 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.”

Not everyone shared that sense of humor –– then or now. Larry Klayman, an attorney representing WND, said on Monday that the court’s decision was “significantly flawed and intellectually dishonest.” Klayman, founder of the watchdog group Judicial Watch and a writer for WND, plans to appeal.

“The Washington establishment … has always been afraid of the eligibility issue,” Klayman said. “This may help explain why the judge dropped the case.”

Corsi’s Where’s the Birth Certificate? was promoted as the definitive volume on the question of Obama’s provenance. The 300-page tome appeared on The New York Times’ best seller list when it was released in May 2010 and remains an Amazon best seller a year after its publication.

In recent weeks, Corsi has been filing video dispatches from Hawaii, where he has continued his quixotic investigation into Obama’s background with the help of Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “cold case posse.” He plans to hold a news conference sometime in the coming months, no doubt with new far-fetched details sure to bolster book sales.