DC Trawler

If Obama’s false claim of Kenyan birth was just a fact-checking error, why did it take over 15 years to fact-check it?

Font Size:

To recap: Last week, Joel Pollak reported that he’d found a 1991 author bio from Barack Obama’s literary agent, Acton & Dystel, that falsely said Obama was born in Kenya.

In that original story, Pollack noted the following:

According to the booklet itself, the text was edited by Miriam Goderich, who has since become Dystel’s partner at Dystel & Goderich, an agency founded in 1994. Breitbart News attempted to reach Goderich by telephone several times over several days. Her calls are screened by an automated service that requires callers to state their name and company, which we did. She never answered.

It wasn’t until the story broke that Goderich told Taegan Goddard (who also happens to be one of her clients):

“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.”

Whoopsie daisy!

This non-explanation was good enough for the same intrepid press corps that was eager to believe Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account was hacked, and that Andrew Young was the real father of Rielle Hunter’s baby.

So now, digging into the story has been left up to those crazy wingnut Birthers — the word “Birther” having been redefined, overnight, from “somebody who thinks Obama was born in Kenya” to “somebody who thinks Obama wasn’t born in Kenya.”

Doug Ross is one of them, and he’s discovered something odd about Goderich’s grenade-covering claim:

The biography provided by Barack Obama to his literary agent specified his birthplace as “Kenya”. And, over the course of 17 years, despite multiple revisions by Obama, the Kenyan birthplace remained a fundamental part of the bio on the agent’s website.

I’ve used the Wayback Archive to explore the exact transformations of Obama’s biography on his agent’s site…

On June 27, 1998, the website read: “BARACK OBAMA was the first black 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 is DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE.”

The Obama entry remained unmodified (e.g., June 6, 2002) until sometime around December 9, 2004, when it was modified 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 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, is a New York Times bestseller.”

And the bio was revised several other times over the years. Each time, the false claim that Obama was born in Kenya remained intact.

It wasn’t until April 2007, two months after Obama launched his presidential campaign, that “Kenya” was changed to “Hawaii.” This, despite all the other changes that were made to the bio over the years.

Weird, huh?

Goderich is on Twitter, so I tried asking her about it:

No reply yet. She’s probably just busy. Y’know… checking facts and stuff.

But why would Obama want people to think he was born in Kenya, when in reality he was born in Hawaii? Could it be because of… Regents of the University of California v. Bakke?

Probably not. It’s probably racist to ask. But then, so is every other question that Obama doesn’t want to answer.

Update: Speaking of racist questions, why does Obama claim Cherokee ancestry with no proof?