Jack Cashill, the Kansas City-based conspiracy theorist, believes that Barack Obama's political career is built on a pack of lies. He's suspicious about the birth certificate, of course. He thinks Bill Ayers ghost-wrote Obama's autobiography Dreams From My Father, an idea that Donald Trump has taken out for a test drive. He doubts that Barack Obama Sr. is the president's biological father, preferring a leftist poet and journalist named Frank Marshall Davis as the impregnator.
Cashill's most recent bit of Obamaology was in the public realm for all of eight hours before it became an object of ridicule. Writing at WorldNetDaily, Cashill asserted that Obama had been inserted into a photograph of his maternal grandparents. But the supposedly damning "source" image is itself a Photoshop job, and a sloppy one at that.
Why would anyone even think of doctoring a 30-year-old picture of Obama's grandparents sitting on a bench in Central Park? Well, Cashill and others are of the mind that Obama has not properly accounted for his whereabouts during the 1981-82 school year. The official story is that Obama was a student at Columbia University, after transferring from Occidental College. Cashill is open to the idea that Obama spent the year in Pakistan. His piece about the future president's "missing year" leaves it to the reader to imagine Obama in a tunic, listening to radical ideas and possibly being conditioned to respond to a queen of diamonds playing card.
In the original version of his piece, Cashill opens by describing the photograph of a "dapper young Barack Obama sitting between his grandparents on a Central Park bench." But it's a fake!
The bench is real. The grandparents are real. The wall behind them is real. Barack Obama is not. He has been conspicuously photo-shopped in. Who did this and why remains as much a mystery as Obama's extended stay in New York.But as Media Matters was apparently the first to note, Obama's knee is still visible in the "real" photo.
Once the jig was up, the reference to the photograph was scrubbed from Cashill's column (without notice or explanation). Asked about the piece by Salon, WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah conceded that an "egregious error" had been made. (At the same time, Farah defended a columnist's privilege to disseminate "misinformation.")
Cashill told Salon in an e-mail (which he shared with us) that he had asked for his column to be reworked after the "questions about the legitimacy" of the Photoshop job were raised. He continued:
The original photo was apparently released by the Obama campaign in April 2008. The experts with whom I consulted after the fact were not convinced that the original was legitimate, but they were confident that the photo of the couple together in the video had been reverse-doctored. The person who sent me the video did so in good faith, and I suspect that the person who created it did so in good faith as well, but my readers depend on me to be right. So out it went. That strikes me as responsible journalism, especially since I only added it incidentally as a symbol of the mystery surrounding the Obama campaign.
He goes on to note Obama's unwillingness to discuss his New York years with The New York Times in 2007 and the "curious" timing of Obama's revelation, during the 2008 campaign, that he had visited Pakistan in 1981.
Obama added Pakistan to a three-week travel itinerary that also featured a stop in Indonesia, where his mother and sister were living. That's the official story, anyway.