In decrying Donald Trump’s racism, many black people are quick to point out Trump’s conspiratorial birther movement as evidence. The only problem is that Hillary Clinton–not Donald Trump–started the birther movement, even though some black pundits are desperately trying to rewrite history.
As evidence, heere’s an exchange between MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Trump supporter and pastor Darrell Scott:
But he went a step too far when he denied Trump had anything to do with encouraging the birther movement over President Barack Obama’s citizenship.
“Don’t tell me you agree with the birtherism, sir,” Reid said as she cut him off. “Don’t tell me you agree with that.”
“The birtherism issue came out of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008,” Scott replied.
“No it didn’t,” Reid shot back, with Scott replying, “Yes it did.”
“That’s wrong,” Reid said as she stopped him once again.
“Even a pastor cannot make things up on this show,” she cautioned.
Notice that Reid offered no evidence for why she believed Scott was wrong, as though shouting Scott down and attempting to shame him was enough. But there is ample reason to believe that birtherism originated with the Clinton campaign.
Hillary Clinton Started the Birther Movement, Not Donald Trump
As The Atlantic noted, Clinton consultant Mark Penn floated the idea of challenging Obama’s roots in a memo:
More than anything else, this memo captures the full essence of Mark Penn’s campaign strategy–its brilliance and its breathtaking attacks. Penn identified with impressive specificity the very coalition of women and blue-collar workers that Clinton ended up winning a year later. But he also called Obama “unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun,” and wrote, “I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.” Penn proposed targeting Obama’s “lack of American roots.”
And there’s more:
In February 2008, the Drudge Report posted a picture of Obama in traditional Kenyan/Somali clothes (including a turban, which helped reinforce the “secret Muslim” smear). Drudge said the picture was circulated by the Clinton campaign. David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager called it “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.”Initially, the Clinton campaign did not deny having sent the photo, instead playing dumb about the possible impact of the photo and attacking Obama over it: “If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.”
Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a member of Congress and Clinton surrogate, when asked about the circulation of the photo, implied that Barack Obama is native to Kenya: “I have no shame, or no problem, with people looking at Barack Obama in his native clothing, the clothing of his country … if we’re supporting a woman or an African American for president, we ought to be able to support their ability to wearthe clothing of their nation.”
Hillary Clinton supporters have attempted to defend her by saying that she wasn’t a birther in the same way as Trump, since she never demanded to see Obama’s birth certificate, but Clinton opened the door that Trump eventually walked through. She’s bears much of the responsibility here.