Politics

President Obama's Last Press Conference Brings out the Conspiracy Theories

President Barack Obama gave his last scheduled press conference of the year, and possibly of his presidency on Friday. Those who broke the cardinal rule of the internet were treated to a stream of racist remarks, conspiracy theories, debunked myths, and complete nonsense in the comments section below the live streaming video.

It would be impossible to run down every Obama-related conspiracy theory and urban legend, but his opponents continue to bring up certain ones over and over, even years after they were found to lack compelling evidence.

The Birth Certificate

Obama has spent nearly a decade fighting allegations that his birth certificate was forged, and that he was actually born in either Kenya or some other far-flung country. Commenters on the final press conference continued referencing this myth, even with the availability of copious information debunking it out there.

Just like the last eight-plus years, the evidence that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii is overwhelming, from the birth announcement in local papers at the time to the two actual birth certificates he's produced.

"Obama created ISIS"

Rumors that President Obama played some kind of active role in creating and funding the Islamic State have existed almost as long as Islamic State itself. Notably, these rumors were fanned by Donald Trump himself, despite them never being true, and contradicting known history about ISIS and its formation.

While it could be argued that ISIS emerged from the inability of Iraq to keep a cohesive military after the U.S. withdrawal, the groundwork for their rise was laid long before Obama took office. The current group is an offshoot of an Al-Qaeda branch that formed during the worst of the Iraq insurgency, which was, in turn, was formed out of a terrorist group called "the Party of Monotheism and Islam."

This group merged with Al Qaeda in 2004, before embracing tactics far more radical and violent than its brethren, and rebranding itself as "Islamic State." Barack Obama didn't "found" or create any of these groups, and accusations that he did are simply a repackaging of old "secret Muslim" tropes.

Obama encouraged illegals to vote

The misleading editing of an interview with the president gave rise to this conspiracy. In an interview just before the election, the President urged Latino citizens to vote to protect undocumented immigrants in their community who can't vote because they aren't citizens. When asked if voting would somehow lead to family members being deported, Obama responded by saying:

"When you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote."

Fox News edited out the last line to make it seem like the president was encouraging non-citizens to vote, encouraging comments like these:

The full context makes it clear that he was encouraging citizens to vote, not non-citizens. And accusations that "millions of illegals" voted in support of Hillary Clinton have found to be completely evidence free.

The fact that these and other conspiracy theories were found to be groundless doesn't stop Obama's detractors from repeating them, a process that likely won't stop once he's out of office.