Editor That Claims Obama’s Kenyan Bio Was an Editorial Oversight, Apparently Oversought that Fact For 17 Years
Last week we addressed a report that was sure to bring a little heat to this site – the fact that a promotional booklet produced in the ’90s had claimed that President Obama was “born in Kenya”.
Breitbart News, who ran the first report on the booklet, had actively sought comment from the publishers who were unavailable – until that is, news of the controversy starting receiving widespread coverage.
At that point, Miriam Goderich, who works at the same literary agency, decided to dive on the grenade by issuing this statement to Political Wire:
“You’re undoubtedly aware of the brouhaha stirred up by Breitbart about the erroneous statement in a client list Acton & Dystel published in 1991 (for circulation within the publishing industry only) that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This was nothing more than a fact checking error by me — an agency assistant at the time. 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.”
Fact-checking error. Editorial oversight. Who knows?
Liberal hacks pounced. Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher, as he so often does, jumped the gun a bit early using the statement as a way to ridicule the Breitbart site:
Pollak went on to claim that the error in that trade pamphlet was part of a grand design by Obama to reshape his image. Yes, because the best way to catapult the Obamaganda is in a one-paragraph bio in the middle of 89 other bios that will be distributed via publishing industry junk-mail. Genius.
And yet, Doug Ross has proven that the short biography itself was consistently manipulated over the years, as significant details had been modified with one notable exception; the phrase “born in Kenya” remained intact for 17 years, and was only changed when it actually mattered – in the spring of 2007 when Obama declared his run for the presidency.
After several revisions, the Obama biography still read this way on April 3rd, 2007 (emphasis mine):
BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.
Within less than three weeks, the biography had been changed to read:
BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Hawaii to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.
Read the rest here, as Ross has thoroughly documented the transformation of Obama’s biography over two decades.
Old media’s feeble handling of this issue — parroting the laughable assertion that clerical errors caused Obama’s birthplace to be incorrectly listed, when former clients and the agency’s policy itself states that authors provide the biographical briefs — is pathetic.
The PJ Tatler sums up the controversy rather well, citing a theory that the President may have been using an alleged Kenyan birth to take advantage of Affirmative Action policies early in his college career:
The scandal is not that Obama was actually born in Kenya, but rather that he lied for his entire adult life about being born in Kenya, for personal gain.
The other scandal here is that the media can turn up a bullying incident involving Mitt Romney from 46 years ago, but can’t find this kind of information four years into the Obama presidency.
A short bio of a relatively unknown Barack Obama written in 1991, includes statements that the soon-to-be President was “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii”, thus revealing the fact that his literary agents were extremist, right-wing birthers.
Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama’s then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”
The booklet, which was distributed to “business colleagues” in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.
It also promotes Obama’s anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White–which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead.
The biography reads (image below):
Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago’s South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White.
I’m getting a little sick of this bending over backwards to not appear “stupid” by these “high profile blogs” on the right. And unfortunately that must include Breitbart.com.
I’m not a “birther” either, in that, I don’t spend all of my time hunting down tips, leads, clues or evidence that Obama’s birth record, birth father, and life story is a lie. But I don’t ridicule the people who do that work.
How can Breitbart.com simultaneously say, we have a document that says Obama was born in Kenya, produced by Obama’s agents, and the printer says that the information was “probably” verified by the authors themselves, but then say that this doesn’t, at all, put the birth certificate’s veracity into question? Why is that?
“Obama and his handlers have a history of redefining his identity when expedient … [and] Obama has been known frequently to fictionalize aspects of his own life,” said the Breitbart website, which stressed its management’s disagreement with claims that Obama was actually born oversees.The so-called “birther” point of view was, ironically, kept alive in 2008 by Obama supporters who slammed reporters investigating the issue, restricted access to his birth certificate and spent heavily to defeat lawsuits seeking a judicial investigation of the issue.
Since 2008, Obama himself has kept alive the question of where he was born, partly by making jokes about it in speeches and fundraisers. His campaign has also sold Obama-themed products showing his birth certificate.
The answer doesn’t really matter, but what does it say about media today that they won’t even ask the question? At the very least, prove that either the literary agents or Obama himself lied about his bio in order to sell books. If you’re willing to research Mitt Romney’s high school antics, why are you not equally interested in a sitting President’s past history?
Anyway, now back to the economy…