Birther in Hot Water at Tea Party Meet

Attending the Tea Party Convention in Nashville this weekend, The Washington Independent's always-excellent David Weigel recounts an extraordinary hallway confrontation between online publisher Andrew Breitbartand WorldNetDaily Editor-in-Chief Joseph Farah over the question of President Obama's citizenship. (Here's the video of his speech, courtesy of C-SPAN. It follows Angela McGlowan's pep talk, starting at the 12.10 mark.)

During his speech, Farah said he hoped that Mr. Obama would not be able to go into any city without seeing signs asking about his bith certificate. "It's a simple question but it hasn't been answered," he said, adding that "it's one of the most important questions that we can be asking."

Following the speech, Farah was cornered by Weigel, who informed him that Breitbart had dismissed the birther argument as a losing political argument. When Breitbart later walked by, Farah insisted that it was "a winning issue." (You can read the entire article but I want to reproduce this verbatim snippet.)

"It's not a winning issue."

"It is! It becomes even more of a winning issue when the press abrogates its responsibility–"

"You don't recognize it as a fundamentally controversial issue that forces a unified group of people to have to break into different parts? It is a schism of the highest order."

"Nothing exposes the president's–"

"Then prove it!"

"The press isn't asking the question–"

"Prove it!"

"Prove what?"

"Prove your case."

"I should prove, what, a birth certificate that may or may not exist?" Farah had gotten irritated. "That's ridiculous. You don't even understand the fundamental tenets of what journalism is about, Andrew. It's not about proving things. It's about asking questions and seeking truth."

Breitbart tensed up after that insult. "Right."

"I know you're not a journalist, so that's fine. But don't diminish people who've been doing this for 35 years."

"So you're going to go on record saying that I'm not a journalist?"

"Are you? I've never heard you claim to be. Are you?"

"I'll let it be answered by you."

"Well, I knew [Matt]Drudge didn't consider himself a journalist, so I assumed that you were. … I don't know, I'm not trying to insult you."

"You did."
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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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