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The Obama Nation
Jerome R. Corsi
Aug 13, 08
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Sep 17, 2008 08:48PM
Jerome Corsi's "The Obama Nation" is a mishmash of unsupported conjecture, half-truths, logical fallacies and outright falsehoods.
Despite its place near the top of The New York Times' nonfiction bestseller list, where it has been riding high for the past six weeks, Jerome Corsi's "The Obama Nation" is not a reliable source of facts about Obama.
Corsi cites opinion columns and unsourced, anonymous blogs as if they were evidence of factual claims. Where he does cite legitimate news sources, he frequently distorts the facts. In some cases, Corsi simply ignores readily accessible information when it conflicts with his arguments. Among the errors we found:
* Corsi claims that Obama "could claim to be a citizen of Kenya as well as of the United States." But the Kenyan Constitution specifically prohibits dual citizenship.
* Corsi falsely states that Obama, who has admitted to drug use as a teenager, "has yet to answer" questions about whether he stopped using drugs. In fact, Obama has answered that question twice, including once in the autobiography that Corsi reviews in his book.
* Corsi relies on claims from one of Obama's "closest" childhood friends to "prove" that Obama once was a practicing Muslim, without revealing that the witness later said he couldn't be certain about his claims and confessed to knowing Obama for only a few months.
* Corsi claims that despite Obama's "rhetorically uplifting" speeches, the candidate has never detailed any specific plans. In fact, Obama's Web site is full of detailed policy proposals.
Mary Matalin, the chief editor of the book's publisher, told The New York Times that the book is not political, but rather, "a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that." The prominent display of Corsi's academic title (he holds a Ph.D. in political science) seems clearly calculated to convey academic rigor. But as a scholarly work, "The Obama Nation" does not measure up. We judge it to be what a hack journalist might call a "paste-up job," gluing together snippets from here and there without much regard for their truthfulness or accuracy.
Corsi promises in his preface "to fully document all arguments and contentions I make, extensively footnoting all references, so readers can determine for themselves the truth and validity of the factual claims." Some of Corsi's claims do come complete with citations. But even a casual glance at Corsi's lengthy endnotes reveals that his "sources" include obscure Internet postings (which are themselves completely unsourced) and opinion columns from various conservative publications. In fact, on four occasions, Corsi cites himself as a source. Where Corsi does cite news sources, he sometimes presents only those that are consistent with his case while ignoring evidence that doesn't fit the picture he paints.
A comprehensive review of all the false claims in Corsi's book would itself be a book. Our review touches only on a few of the more blatant examples.
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