It's rough being Jerome Corsi these days.
WorldNetDaily's star reporter has spent the past four years peddling various birther conspiracies, desperately trying to prove that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. That work culminated with taking part in a successful effort to manipulate Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio into conducting an "investigation" into Obama's "eligibility" -- into which Corsi insinuated himself as a de facto member of Arpaio's "cold case posse."
As Corsi's involvement would indicate, the posse's "investigation" was largely a rehash of WND's birther conspiracies that had previously been debunked by others. Then, in a July news conference, posse leader Mike Zullo announced his latest piece of so-called evidence: handwritten codes on Obama's long-form birth certificate "proves the document has been tampered with."
But Zullo and the posse used the wrong coding system to divine what the handwritten numbers meant -- a system established in 1968 to interpret a 1961 birth certificate. Fact-checking sites immediately shot the claim down.
Having his shoddy, careless research methods exposed so completely appears to have shaken Corsi. He has written very little about the posse since then, and he certainly won't admit that the posse screwed the pooch on the coding stuff -- just one of many birther-debunking facts WND refuses to publish.
Instead, Corsi is turning his attention to one of the darkest, most fetid corners of the Obama-hate by peddling rumors that Obama is gay.
This is a direction WND has not been afraid to take in the past. In February 2008, it pounced on never-proven claims by Larry Sinclair that he and Obama did drugs and had sex, promoting them even though it made no apparent effort to verify Sinclair's claims. WND editor Joseph Farah even defended Sinclair, suggesting that he must be credible because he "makes his charges public, agrees to a polygraph and files a lawsuit reiterating the charges and accusing the candidate of harassment and intimidation." But as Sinclair failed that lie-detector test, was revealed to be a convicted criminal, and continued to discredit himself in public -- most notably with what one observer called "the single most stupefying event on any single day, what with the diversity of inanity on display from coast to coast in an election year," that came complete with a kilt-wearing attorney who justified his wardrobe decision by discussing the size of his "male genitalia" -- even WND backed away from him.
Corsi began hinting at this Dumpster-diving direction in a February 2011 WND column, in which he purported to review of WND columnist Jack Cashill's book "Deconstructing Obama" but mostly served up a mish-mash of Obama derangement in which he invoked the unproven Obama rumors:
Ayers, Axelrod and Plouffe would go to any length, including lying, to hide the reality that Black Liberation Theology is a Marxist-derived revolutionary religion predicated on racist prejudices.
The reader could never know that Rev. Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ championed Muslims like Louis Farrakhan and welcomed into its ranks homosexuals such as choirmaster David Young.
Equally toxic was the mystery that Young was one of three Trinity United Church openly professed homosexuals brutally killed in yet-unsolved murders that occurred within a 40-day time span between November and December 2007, as Obama's handlers were preparing to take his presidential campaign to the national stage.
Corsi was alluding to a claim, promoted by the likes of fringe conspiracy theorist Wayne Madsen, that Obama had an affair with Young. It echoes the discredited "Clinton body count" promoted by Clinton-haters during the 1990s.
As Corsi's birther conspiracy began to publicly implode this year, he turned more and more to the gay-sex rumors. In an April 24 WND article, Corsi tried to rehabilitate Sinclair, writing that a libel case was dismissed against Sinclair by a man who claimed Sinclair ruined him by claiming in a book that Obama adviser David Axelrod had agreed to pay the man $750,000 to rig the results of Sinclair's polygraph test. Corsi makes sure to put in his lead paragraph that Sinclair has made the "sensational charge that he had sex and used drugs with the future president," but it wasn't until the final paragraph of his 27-paragraph article that Corsi gets around to mentioning that Sinclair has a "criminal past."
Corsi followed hat up with a June 5 WND article declaring that "Two recent developments have bolstered a campaign by Larry Sinclair to advance the sensational claim in his 2009 book 'Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder' that he and Barack Obama twice engaged in homosexual acts accompanied by cocaine use." Neither of these "recent developments," however, does anything of the sort.
The first is that the man who conducted the lie-detector test that Sinclair failed -- and whom Sinclair is now accusing of having been paid $750,000 by Obama adviser David Axelrod to rig the test -- "was indicted in an unrelated matter by federal authorities and charged with conspiring to conceal campaign donations." Corsi also makes no mention of what evidence, if any, Sinclair cites as proof that the lie-detector test was rigged.
The other "development" Corsi claimed was significant is a brief by Amazon.com in a lawsuit over Sinclair's book claiming that the book has not been proven defamatory. That doesn't mean it isn't, of course, or that it has been documented to be factual. As Corsi reported, Amazon is simply invoking the case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which established modern libel law by setting a higher bar of libel against public figures and setting the standard that a publisher of a defamatory statement know that the statement is false or acted in reckless disregard as a condition of conviction. It's pretty standard procedure for a publisher or distributor of a potentially libelous or defamatory statement to invoke Sullivan in defense.
In an Aug. 15 article, Corsi repeated a claim by John Drew that after a 1980 encounter with Obama, "his strong impression at the time was that Obama and the wealthy Pakistani roommate who accompanied him were homosexual lovers." In fact, Drew -- who has also cited his encounters with Obama to claim that he was, as Corsi wrote, a "Marxist revolutionar[y]" -- met Obama only twice in social occasions, making it highly unlikely that he could have made such sweeping conclusions of Obama's purported nature based on brief, casual encounters.
An Aug. 28 article by Corsi focused around Obama assistant Reggie Love and how "the Internet" was "abuzz with speculation" that Love temporarily stepped down from his position because of college photos that "purported to show a heavily inebriated Love surrounded by fellow students assisting him in engaging in a homosexual act at a party." Corsi touted how the Drudge Report "toyed with headlines, photos and page placement over the years that give the impression Love was something more than a presidential assistant" to Obama, then finally moved to peddle completely unsubstantiated rumors that Obama and Love have had a sexual relationship.
Corsi presented not a single fact in support of this claim -- only rumors.
Corsi upped the ante in a Sept. 11 article claiming that "Barack Obama's participation in the 'gay' bar and bathhouse scene was so well known that many who were aware of his lifestyle were shocked when he ran for president and finally won the White House." Corsi's main source this time around is Kevin DuJan, who he claimed is "a prominent member of Chicago's homosexual community" and "founder and editor of the Hillary Clinton-supporting website HillBuzz.org."
DuJan -- whose previous claim to fame was spearheading a campaign to stuff the ballot box so Bristol Palin would win on "Dancing With the Stars" -- has been making this claim for more than two years, making Corsi a bit slow on the uptake. But, like Madsen, DuJan is a less-than-credible source. The liberal gay blog Joe. My. God. writes of him: "DuJan also claims that nobody will date him because he loves Sarah Palin. Then there's that claim that leftist gays are poisoning his drinks in Chicago bars. ... Oh and black people who voted for Obama are racists."
Corsi adds this hard-hitting piece of investigative reporting: "WND also spoke with a member of the East Bank Club in Chicago, who confirmed Obama was a member there and was known to be a homosexual." Corsi portrays the East Bank Club as a "'gay gym,' where homosexuals meet and engage in sexual activity." In fact, the club portrays itself as "the country's premier fitness facility," which also has programs for children -- which suggests that Obama's membership had nothing to do with being gay and everything to do with having sufficient social status in the city.
As with the rest of his article, there's no actual, on-the-record evidence to back up his claim, just uncritical repeating of unsubstantiated rumors.
This is the WND "news" standard, apparently -- reporting rumors, not facts.
(An expanded version of this column is available at ConWebWatch.)