Birther Conspiracy Theory, Part Deux
Posted on Apr 29, 2011
After President Obama released his long-form birth certificate earlier this week, you’d think that the birther scandal would be finally put to rest. But no. Obama-hating conspiracy theorists have thought up a brand new angle on the birth certificate dispute, alleging they have proof that the document is a Photoshopped forgery. —YL
Talking Points Memo:
The fringe theory’s rapid spread within hours of the certificate’s release presents almost a perfect example of one of the White House’s justifications for taking on the birther issue—namely, that thanks to the internet, conspiracy theories can migrate quickly from the fringe and into the mainstream if left unchecked.
In this case, it took only hours. The forgery claim appeared to have first started as an offbeat blog post from an Atlanta-based art director at an ad firm, Bryan Michael Nixon, less than two hours after Obama’s statement. By the end of the day it had become a headline on Drudge Report, one of the single most trafficked news sites on the internet. The debunked forgery revelation drew thousands of comments on messageboards, migrated to birther and truther conspiracy guru Alex Jones’ site, while a video explanation was viewed over 160,000 times on YouTube.
The basis for the forgery claim lay in a basic misunderstanding of how computer image formats work. Nixon observed in his post that the PDF file of Obama’s long form birth certificate could be broken down into “layers,” including a background and separate foreground text. “This in no way proves that anything on it is fake, but only that the document from the WH was composed of multiple elements,” he wrote. “How to interpret it is up to the viewer.”
President Barack Obama’s certificate of live birth.