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Santorum Touts Birther Endorsement | The Nation

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Ben Adler

Ben Adler

 The 2012 election, Republican politics and conservative media.

Santorum Touts Birther Endorsement

On Friday night the Santorum campaign sent out a press release boasting that “OVER 30 NATIONAL CONSERVATIVE LEADERS ENDORSE SANTORUM.” Just who were these leaders? Some were utterly obscure figures who do not actually qualify as national conservative leaders. (For example, “Ken Campbell, California Conservative Leader” does not appear anywhere on the Google search results for “Ken Campbell.”)

A few were legitimate, if polarizing, national conservative leaders, such as Gary Bauer, Richard Viguerie and James Dobson. (All are more precisely described as social conservatives rather than just conservatives generally.)

But one name in particular stood out: Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND.com and WND Books. If you don’t know about Farah, you should. He edits World Net Daily, an extremely nasty, conspiracy-minded cesspool of far-right fear-mongering. It may sound marginal, but it has a surprisingly large reach and readership.

What has made Farah more widely known outside the margins of the conservative movement is his relentless advocacy of “birtherism,” the racist lie that President Obama was not actually born in Hawaii.

Farah has been promoting bogus conspiracy theories about Democratic presidents since the Clinton administration. A 1996 Columbia Journalism Review article called “The Vincent Foster Factory” reported the role played by Farah, then head of the Western Journalism Center, in promoting suspicions surrounding the death of Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster.

As Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch.com reports, “Farah and WND have reported numerous claims regarding the birth certificate that have been proven false, but WND has made no effort to correct the record. WND has also told numerous falsehoods about Obama in general.”

Farah repeatedly demanded that Obama release his long-form birth certificate, pledging $15,000 to the hospital where Obama was born upon its release. When the White House released the document last year, he called it “fraudulent.”

It might seem strange that Rick Santorum—who eschews the kind of dishonest slander of Obama that Newt Gingrich engages in—would boast of being endorsed by such a person. Indeed, it seems strange that relatively mainstream conservative figures such as Gary Bauer would want to be associated with him.

I emailed the Santorum campaign asking for his stance on birtherism and got no reply.

But the reasons are not too hard to figure out. Conservatives and Republicans play this game—where they stay above the fray and wink at others who do their dirty work—all the time. From the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's lies about John Kerry to birtherism, Republicans and conservatives, even seemingly responsible ones, rely upon people such as Joseph Farah to keep their base angry.

And if ever there were evidence that the media has no liberal bias, just look at how this issue has been ignored. Can you imagine the reaction if a Democratic candidate for president bragged of being endorsed by, say, Noam Chomsky, never mind an actual bigot and liar like Joseph Farah?

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