As we have noted several times, Donald Trump frequently seems to take his campaign cues directly from the furthest fringes of the far-right, conspiracy-theory-loving media, from Breitbart to Infowars to WorldNetDaily to the National Enquirer.
This seems to be exactly what happened this week when Trump’s campaign announced that it had invited Malik Obama, a Kenyan-born half-brother of President Obama who has said he is supporting Trump, to tonight’s presidential debate. While the decision might leave some observers scratching their heads, Malik Obama’s name would be very familiar to anyone who follows the far-right media, which has had a hate-turned-to-love relationship with the president’s relative.
WorldNetDaily and its chief proponent of the birther myth, Jerome Corsi, have been particularly enthusiastic about reporting on Malik Obama—first going to great lengths to try to tie him to terrorism and play up his ties to the president, and then changing course to embrace Malik when he started to criticize his brother in the White House. In at least one case, the outlet has reversed course within weeks to frame Malik Obama as a malicious threat with close ties to the president one day and then as an unfairly estranged victim of the president not long after.
Here is a story of WorldNetDaily’s relationship with Malik Obama in 14 headlines:
“Influence of Obama’s brother Abongo felt in Washington” (9/17/2011)
Corsi wrote an early story about Malik Obama (also known as Abongo) in 2011, when he alleged that the IRS had fast-tracked Malik’s application for tax exempt status for his Barack H. Obama Foundation.
“Obama half-brother uses IRS status to fund polygamy?” (5/28/2013)
A couple of years later, Corsi returned to the Malik Obama story, writing about a report by far-right activist Walid Shoebat alleging that funds from Malik’s foundation had “been diverted to support Malik’s multiple wives in Kenya.”
“Obama’s brother linked to Muslim Brotherhood” (8/20/2013)
Corsi continued his Malik Obama beat later that year with a story based on Shoebat’s claims that “Malik Obama’s oversight of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international investments is one reason for the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Egypt eyes Obama’s brother for terror list” (9/5/2013)
Corsi again, again citing Shoebat: “President Obama’s Kenyan half-brother, Malik Obama, appears headed for the Egyptian terror watch list because of his Muslim Brotherhood ties.”
“Obama’s Kenyan brother attacks WND” (9/29/2013)
“Malik Hussein Obama, President Obama’s half-brother in Kenya, has charged in an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency that WND senior staff reporter Jerome R. Corsi has engaged in a ‘smear attack’ against him for publishing statements by the Egyptian government accusing him of managing funds for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”
“Obama brother’s Hamas scarf only tip of iceberg” (1/29/2014)
This one is self-explanatory.
“Obama brother tied to Hamas-funding accounts” (1/30/2014)
Yet again, Corsi reporting based on Shoebat’s claims.
“Obama brother works with ‘Koresh-style’ cult leader” (4/15/2014)
Corsi, citing Shoebat: “President Obama’s half-brother from Kenya, Abongo Malik Obama, will return Friday to the U.S., not to visit the White House as he has done before, but to begin a partnership with a cult leader in Texas who has been compared to David Koresh and Jim Jones.”
“Obama brother partners with polygamist cult” (4/16/2014)
Corsi: “In his partnership with the self-styled prophet of a polygamist cult in Texas, a half-brother of President Obama has expressed his support for the cult’s proposal to build the Third Temple in Jerusalem in fulfillment of biblical prophecy.”
“Brother: ‘Dishonest’ Obama abandoned family” (4/23/2015)
Things suddenly changed last year when Joel Gilbert, a right-wing filmmaker best known for his movie claiming that President Obama’s “real father” was labor activist Frank Marshall Davis, entered the scene. In April 2014, Corsi published a series of two articles about an interview Gilbert had conducted with Malik Obama. In the first, Corsi enthusiastically reported on Malik’s criticism of his half-brother, whom he called “a schemer” and “not an honest man.” Corsi, who had spent the previous several years trying to prove that Malik was secretly influencing White House decisions, wrote that Obama had “abandoned” his family.
“Filmmaker: Malik Obama’s radical ties ‘misinterpreted'” (4/26/2015)
In the second part of the series, Corsi wrote that maybe WND had gotten it all wrong: “Gilbert, who says he has gotten to know Malik over the past few months, insists Malik’s relationships ‘with questionable characters have been greatly misinterpreted.’ ‘All these relationships only have to do with Malik trying to find ways to help his extended family and his impoverished village financially,’ he said.”
“Malik Obama’s million dollar manuscript” (5/20/2015)
Malik Obama’s rehabilitation with WND continued later in the year when reporter Jack Cashill wrote that Obama’s half-brother had sent Gilbert copies of 22 pages of a draft manuscript of Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father” that the future president had “marked up in his own familiar scrawl.” The edited manuscript, Cashill claimed, “further strengthens the thesis I introduced on these pages in September 2008 that Obama turned to terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers for editorial assistance.”
“Obama’s ’emotional attachment’ to Islam ‘has hurt USA’” (7/7/2016)
WND returned briefly to some of its older allegations about Malik Obama in reporting on Bill O’Reilly’s allegation that “Obama’s emotional attachment to the Muslim world has hurt the USA.”
“Obama’s brother voting for Donald Trump” (7/24/2016)
But a few weeks later, all was forgotten again.