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Cashill began to make a name for himself in his adopted hometown. He hosted a talk-radio show and became a columnist at Ingram's, the monthly business magazine. Writing at Ingram's, Cashill rapped knuckles but kept ideology largely out of it. His conservatism was more evident in the occasional essays he sold to The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard.
Then, in the mid-1990s, while editing a series of programs for public television in Kansas City, he came up with the idea of making a documentary on TWA flight 800.
"I was at a dinner party once with a guy who was in the military, and it came up, and he says to me, 'I can get you the serial number of the missile that shot it down. I can't say who fired it, though,'" Cashill recalls.
Cashill says he wouldn't have attempted to write such a book in an age before search engines. "Before the Internet came along, are you kidding? I could never be an investigative journalist. Once that was at your fingertips, you could find any expert you needed."
First Strike made Cashill a minor star on conservative websites. But the editors at established publications in New York and Washington suddenly lost interest in him.
"Once I started writing about what happened to Flight TWA, that was the end of it," Cashill says. "The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard never returned my calls again. That's fine. I can write for those publications or I can cover the biggest stories of our time and still make $100,000 a year. I don't need to have my name in The Wall Street Journal."
Still, Cashill seems bothered by the loss of prestige. The Deconstructing Obama book jacket omits that the author lives in the Midwest and that his work is most often featured on partisan websites. Instead, his fleeting appearances in the pages of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal receive mention. In the author photo, he's standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Two years before the Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions released Deconstructing Obama, Cashill used the far-right website World Net Daily to mull over his theories about Obama's writings.
World Net Daily was founded by Joseph Farah, who edited newspapers in California before launching the site in 1997. One of the site's most popular columnists is action star Chuck Norris. In recent years, the site has become infamous for catering to the birther movement.
Farah met Cashill through mutual friends. "There's an intellectualism in Jack's work that appeals to, I think, people who are thinkers," Farah tells The Pitch. "The insights you get from reading Cashill are unlike any you can get from reading anyone else. I think that's what makes him so special."
Though his background is in newspapers, Farah admits that his columnists do not always practice standard journalism.
"I get in trouble when I say this, but we have columnists across the political spectrum, and columnists have a certain leeway," he says. "They're trying to make a point, and certainly we hope and pray they'll use facts to make their point, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes they bend the rules quite a bit."
The flexible standards at World Net Daily were evident in April, when Cashill attempted to report on the "discovery" that a well-known photograph of a college-age Obama and his grandparents was a forgery.
Working with images that he received from an amateur sleuth, Cashill claimed that Obama had been digitally inserted into a picture of his grandparents sitting on a park bench. But the supposedly original photo of the grandparents was clearly a bad Photoshop job. Obama's right knee was still visible in the picture that Cashill had deemed authentic.