Most Read: National

Live Discussions

Switchback: Talking tech

Switchback: Talking tech

Chat transcript

Smartwatches are coming, but will they catch on? The Switch team discussed the future of wearables and other tech news.

Weekly schedule, past shows

She the People
On Twitter Follow Us |  On Facebook Fan Us |  RSS RSS Feed
Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 05/19/2012

The birthers are back! The birthers are back!

Or maybe they just never gave up on it.

Arizona — where a top election official has said President Obama might not make the ballot because of questions about his birth certificate — is one place where it is enjoying a resurgence.

And then there is the latest version of Obama birthology, with a new twist: Okay, maybe he wasn’t born in Africa, but he tried to pretend he was.

Here’s where it comes from: A few days back, Breitbart.com came across a 1991 short bio of Obama published by his then-literary agency, which described him as “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” It was included in a booklet that contained descriptions of 90 agency clients and was distributed only within the publishing industry, according to Breitbart.


President Obama walks from the White House Fridayto board Marine One for the trip to Camp David for the G-8 summit. (Carolyn Kaster - AP)
This has set off a frenzy in the conservative blogosphere, with the Drudge Report describing it as “Obama Lit Agent Shocker.” Speculation as to why he would be described that way ranges from declarations that this is proof that he was indeed born in Kenya to the supposition that he was seeking some kind of professional advantage by suggesting in a narrowly circulated pamphlet that he was.

Never mind that Obama was not exactly an unknown at that point. A year before, an obscure publication known as the New York Times had written about his election as head of the Harvard Law Review, and noted, “His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.”

What apparently did happen is something that is not exactly unheard-of in the media business: A junior staffer made a mistake. As ABC News reported,

Miriam Goderich edited the text of the bio; she is now a partner at the Dystel & Goderich agency, which lists Obama as one of its current clients.
“This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me--an agency assistant at the time,” Goderich wrote in an emailed statement to Yahoo News. “There was never any information given to us by Obama in any of his correspondence or other communications suggesting in any way that he was born in Kenya and not Hawaii. I hope you can communicate to your readers that this was a simple mistake and nothing more.”

Still, a new myth is born.

All of this, by the way, is part of a Breitbart project to “vet” Obama, as many on the right believe that the media failed to look into his early life when he ran for president.

For those who have a similar concern, Washington Post research editor Alice Crites has compiled links to some of the stories our newspaper wrote on that subject.

Please read them — although be warned in advance that you will have to set aside a good chunk of time.

- His life in Hawaii

- His family and personal odyssey

- His relationship with his father

- His religious faith

- His rise in Chicago politics

- His state senate career

- Recollections of people who knew him

By  |  04:00 PM ET, 05/19/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company