A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

April Fools’… Still

In view of today’s date, we’d like to pay tribute to the longest-running and most successful April Fools’ hoax we’ve yet encountered.
In the spring of 2009, a chain e-mail started circulating with claims of a "smoking gun" proving President Obama was a foreigner.

AP- WASHINGTON D.C. – In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama’s qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has released copies of President Obama’s college transcripts from Occidental College.

No Trial for Obama

Q: Is federal judge David O. Carter starting a trial on Jan. 26 to determine whether Obama is qualified to be president?
A: No. This is yet another bogus claim circulated by persons who cling to a belief that Obama was not born in the U.S.A. The judge threw the case out of court back in October.

Clueless ‘Columbo’

Q: What’s up with “Columbo” and his questions for Obama?
A: The interrogator in a chain e-mail gets his facts fouled up and makes false accusations.

Whoppers of 2009

Although 2009 was not an election year, it kept us exceptionally busy, and led to millions of visits to our site. In this year-end summary, we offer some of the worst examples of the falsehoods we encountered during the first year of the Obama administration. The list of howlers includes the false claim that the stimulus bill would dictate …

O RLY?

Yesterday, we wearily acknowledged that nothing would dissuade birth-certificate doubters from their conviction that Barack Obama is not a United States natural-born citizen. As if on cue, dentist/lawyer Orly Taitz appeared on the "Colbert Report," and told the faux pundit that nothing short of retroactive zombie naturalization would convince her that Obama was qualified to be prez.

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The money quote:

Colbert: What would he have to do to satisfy you and those in your movement?

The Last Word? We Wish.

We at FactCheck.org are grateful to the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorists for hundreds of thousands of page views to our "Born in the U.S.A." article from last November, and to our other items debunking some of their more outrageously false claims. We’re less grateful for their thousands of sometimes abusive e-mails claiming that we’re perpetuating a dangerous falsehood, among the more printable comments. Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii Department of Health, is also fed up.

More “Birther” Nonsense: Obama’s 1981 Pakistan Trip

We continue to receive queries about claims and theories advanced by "birthers," who wish to believe that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the USA or that he somehow gave up his citizenship and thus is not qualified to hold the office he occupies. One is a claim, first advanced last year, that his trip to Pakistan in 1981 proves he must not have been a U.S. citizen because Americans were not permitted to travel there at the time.

Was Obama Born in the USA?

Q: Has a “smoking gun” been found to prove Obama was not born a U.S. citizen? Did he attend Occidental College on a scholarship for foreign students?
A: This chain e-mail is a transparent April Fools’ Day hoax. It fabricates an AP news story about an nonexistent group, and makes false claims about Obama and the Fulbright program.

More Citizenship Quibbles

Since our article about Barack Obama’s birth certificate came out in August, we’ve heard many frivolous claims, nutty theories and made-up facts advanced by a small clique of Obama deniers. It seems that every time a rumor is debunked, a new one crops up to take its place. Sometimes contradictory rumors even circulate simultaneously.
The most recent claim is that Obama’s short-form birth certificate is legitimate, but that it was made up after his birth in Kenya,

It’s Official: Obama “Born in the U.S.A.”

Of all the nutty rumors, baseless conspiracy theories and sheer disinformation that we’ve dealt with at FactCheck.org during campaign 2008, perhaps the goofiest is the claim that Barack Obama is not a “natural-born citizen” and therefore not eligible to be president under the constitution.
This claim was first advanced by diehard Hillary Clinton supporters as her campaign for the party’s nomination faded, and has enjoyed a revival among John McCain’s partisans as he fell substantially behind Obama in public opinion polls.