Its been said multiple times this week that “#birtherism,” the ridiculous, libelous and very, very racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, is now over. After #Donald Trump, for years the leading pontificator of said theory, finally admitted to its falsehood, the reasoning goes, we can finally put it in the past.
CNN host Don Lemon, last week, declared just as much. “End of story. It's done. This issue is over,” Lemon said September 16, on the eve of Trump’s announcement. Lemon went on state that Trump deserves “credit” for finally admitting that the president is actually an America. As is often the case, Don Lemon is wrong -- and seemed to tacitly admit as much, as he hosted segments the next several nights on the topic, giving such Trump sycophants as Scottie Nell Hughes and Corey Lewandowski an opportunity to defend even more indefensible behavior than they do on a typical night.
What Trump did
The facts about birtherism are in no way in dispute. Ever since Barack Obama first became a national political figure, various Internet bottom feeders have pushed the notion that he lied about his birthplace, was actually born in Kenya, and therefore was not eligible to be president. The main spreaders of the theory in its early days were various right-wing fringe blogs, as well as a small handful of people, also bloggers, who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. But Hillary Clinton has never endorsed or spread the theory herself.
Donald Trump, however, has. He began talking about regularly in TV appearances and tweets in early 2011, until the president released his longform birth certificate and then, a few days later, mercilessly mocked Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He then wrapped up a very productive weekend the following day by ordering the raid on Osama Bin Laden.
The way he did it
Trump, in his admission last week, stated that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the 'birther' controversy. I finished it.”
Now, Trump lies a lot, of course. But this lie is particularly brazen, in that it contradicts known facts that everyone following politics witnessed over the course of five years. Hillary Clinton never “started” the birther controversy, and Donald Trump never “finished” it -- in fact, he kept right on questioning the birthplace and American-ness of the first black president of the United States in numerous interviews.
This will come up in debates. Ads will be made about it. The media, having been embarrassed by Trump’s stunt, will continue to push him on it. Birtherism may not be the most evil thing Donald Trump has done, but it’s his most naked, obvious lie, and it will certainly come back to hurt him.