WND Founder Joseph Farah Schools Andrew Breitbart on Journalism and "Birther" Issue
Breitbart, in his first post at BigGovernment (September 10, 2009): "James [O'Keefe] is like me: heís idealistic, rightĖleaning, and doesnít pretend heís a neutral and objective journalist. (No oneís 'objective.)"
At the Tea Party Convention, there was a hallway confrontation between online publisher and former Tulane C student and ex-liberal Andrew Breitbart (BreitbartTV, Big Hollywood, BigGovernment, Big Journalism) and WorldNetDaily founder and editor-in-chief Joseph Farah over the question of President Obama's citizenship.
Addressing the convention, Farah had expressed his hope that Obama would not be able to go into any city without seeing signs asking about his birth certificate.
Farah: "It's a simple question but it hasn't been answered," and "it's one of the most important questions that we can be asking."
After Farah spoke, Washington Independent's Dave Weigel told Farah that Breitbart had dismissed the "birther" argument as a losing political argument.
Farah disagreed and opined that it was "a winning issue" when he encountered Breitbart.
Breitbart: "Itís not a winning issue."
"It is! It becomes even more of a winning issue when the press abrogates its responsibilityĖ"
"You donít 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 presidentísĖ"
Breitbart: "Then prove it!"
Farah: "The press isnít asking the questionĖ"
Breitbart: "Prove it!"
Farah: "Prove what?"
Breitbart: "Prove your case."
Farah: "I should prove, what, a birth certificate that may or may not exist? Thatís ridiculous. You donít even understand the fundamental tenets of what journalism is about, Andrew. Itís not about proving things. Itís about asking questions and seeking truth."
Farah: "I know youíre not a journalist, so thatís fine. But donít diminish people whoíve been doing this for 35 years."
Breitbart: "So youíre going to go on record saying that Iím not a journalist?"
Farah: "Are you? Iíve never heard you claim to be. Are you?"
Breitbart: "Iíll let it be answered by you."
Farah: "Well, I knew [Matt] Drudge didnít consider himself a journalist, so I assumed... I donít know, Iím not trying to insult you."
Breitbart: "You did."
It depends on how you define journalist. If an admitted partisan can be a journalist, then Breitbart qualifies. But if a journalist is supposed to at least try not to let personal bias influence his reporting, Farah was right.
Breitbart, in his first post at BigGovernment: "James [O'Keefe] is like me: heís idealistic, rightĖleaning, and doesnít pretend heís a neutral and objective journalist. (No oneís 'objective.)"
Law obviously is not Breitbart's strong suit, Farah is right that journalists should be asking about Obama's birth certificate and, unfortunately, Breitbart and his ilk (the likes of "birther" bashers Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, for two examples) are working to make it a "losing issue" by ridiculing "the birthers" instead of recognizing that they are rightly putting the burden of proof where it belongs--on those who claim Obama is constitutionally qualified to be President of the United States.
I think that Thomas Jefferson would side with Farah.
Jefferson warned that to preserve freedom, the press needs to pursue truth, not play politics:
"I am persuaded that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors, and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs through the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.
Common sense tells us if there was nothing on Obama's birth certificate worth hiding, he would not spend a fortune trying to hide it. Farah rightly has been pointing out the obvious lack of transparency of the one who posed as the candidate of hope, change and transparency, while others either are too timid to challenge Obama's personal integrity, or too trusting, or too expansive in their view of what a President should be entitled to keep private.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.