WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi has managed to pull off what was once thought impossible -- writing a story that even birthers refuse to believe.
In an Oct. 9 WND article, Corsi claimed that "Arabic-language and Islamic experts" think that "the ring Obama has been wearing for more than 30 years is adorned with the first part of the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahada: 'There is no god except Allah.'" Corsi added: "Sincere recitation of the Shahada is the sole requirement for becoming a Muslim, as it expresses a person's rejection of all other gods." Corsi included numerous blurry, blown-up images of the ring on Obama's hand, going on to note that "Egyptian-born Islamic scholar Mark A. Gabriel, Ph.D., examined photographs of Obama's ring at WND's request and concluded that the first half of the Shahada is inscribed on it."
Corsi went on to note that "Dreams from My Real Father producer Joel Gilbert, an Arabic speaker and an expert on the Middle East, was the first to conclude that Obama's ring, reportedly from Indonesia, bore an Islamic inscription."
Corsi's boss, WND editor Joseph Farah, was eager to promote this story, wondering in an Oct. 10 column why nobody else was covering Corsi's big scoop. The story is "off the charts in terms of readership," according to Farah, but "the self-appointed information cops" won't touch it. He then declared: "I don't know about you, but I think this is an important story -- maybe one of the biggest of the presidential election year. That it had to wait so long to be told reflects the inherent mystery still surrounding the man in the White House and a hapless press just too afraid to go certain places in the pursuit of the truth."
Farah has inadvertently hit upon the problem with Corsi's story -- it's not true. And the people who debunked it were the last people one would expect to contradict anything Corsi or WND reports: birthers.
The Birther Report blog, aka Obama Release Your Records -- which insists that Obama has committed "criminal identity fraud," has "forged documents," and that he is "is constitutionally not a natural-born Citizen of the U.S. since his father was not a U.S. Citizen when Obama was born" -- cited a "prominent computer software and graphics expert" who says that Corsi and Gilbert's claim about Obama's ring is a "major hoax," that Gilbert's images were photoshopped, and that a high-resolution image of Obama's ring shows that it has no Arabic symbols on it.
That prompted Corsi to pen a follow-up article responding to the Birther Report's then-unnamed expert, in which Gilbert insisted that he "made no alteration whatsoever" to the pattern on the ring. Corsi made no mention of the high-resolution image, but he noted that his original article "was picked up today by the Saudi-owned paper Al-Arabiya."
In response, the Birther Report unveiled its "computer software and graphics expert" -- it's none other than Mara Zebest, a birther who made a supporting appearance alongside Corsi last year at WND's press conference announcing its defamation lawsuit against Esquire magazine (which was recently booted out of court). Corsi touted Zebest in a 2011 WND article as "a nationally recognized computer expert who has served as contributing author and technical editor for more than 100 books on Adobe and Microsoft software."
This isn't the only instance of right-wingers backing away from Corsi's ring claim:
- A Free Republic thread on Corsi's article is filled with detractors, one of whom wrote, "there is a reason why WND is known (even here) as 'World Nut Daily.'"
- Richard Bartholomew noted that anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller, who initially blogged in support of Corsi's article, apparently deleted that post without explanation.
Corsi has not written a thing about the ring story since Zebest was revealed as his critic.
Amazingly, this is not the only Joel Gilbert-sourced, Jerome Corsi-promoted anti-Obama story to fall apart in the couple weeks.
For months, as part of his campaign of sleaze against Obama, Corsi has been promoting Gilbert's Obama-hating film Dreams From My Real Father, which claims that Obama's father is actually "communist poet" Frank Marshall Davis and that Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, posed nude for him in photos that were published in fetish erotica magazines of the era. But judging by the fact that Corsi never quotes Gilbert backing up his claims with facts, it appears that his film is nothing but conjecture and speculation, based on photos of a woman he can't even prove is Obama's mother who posed nude for Davis. It's nothing more than a sleazy smear piece designed to make money off Obama-haters.
Corsi has also touted Gilbert's mailing of a DVD of his film to millions of households in swing states. Curiously, there's one thing missing from Corsi's promotion: any evidence of him asking Gilbert who's paying for all of this. It costs money to make DVDs, print up fliers to stick them in, and mail them; it's hard to imagine Gilbert's main gig obsessively making films about Bob Dylan generating that kind of income. (An actual journalist asked Gilbert where the money was coming from, but he refused to answer.)
But blogger Loren Collins has utterly demolished Gilbert's claims in a seven-part series demonstrating Gilbert's falsehoods and history of mendacity. Perhaps most importantly, Collins shot down the claim that Ann Dunham posed for Davis by proving that photos that Gilbert claims are of Dunham were actually published in an erotica magazine when Dunham was 15 years old -- years before she and her family moved to Hawaii -- and are of a woman considerably older than 15.
Collins also made a videotaped debunking of the photo claim. Collins explains that Gilbert apparently tried to suppress the video by filing a frivolous copyright claim against it that temporarily removed it from YouTube (despite Collins' usage of a clip from an ad for Gilbert's film -- not from the film itself -- clearly falling under fair use). Collins removed the offending section and re-posted the video.
So Gilbert clearly knows about Collins' work to the extent that he tried to keep others from seeing it. But so far, Gilbert has not responded publicly to it. And you know what that means -- Corsi and WND will ignore it as well.
In 2008, Corsi traveled to Kenya in search of something to smear Obama with. All he brought back were documents purporting to link Obama to Kenyan leader Raila Odinga that were clearly fraudulent. He's still at it, but he's no more truthful now than he was then -- and even the birthers are catching on.
An expanded version of this story is posted at ConWebWatch.