Birthers sue Esquire for more than $100 million over satire they say hurt book sales

Dylan Stableford

If you thought birther conspiracy theorists went the way of Donald Trump's presidential hopes, think again.

Joseph Farah--who runs the World Net Daily website and a related book imprint--and Jerome Corsi, author of "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case That Barack Hussein Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President," held a press conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday to announce that they have filed a lawsuit against Esquire magazine and its owner, Hearst, over an satirical article by Mark Warren published last month.

"This was a serious mistake by Mark Warren and Esquire for which they will pay dearly," Larry Klayman, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said. "It was obviously calculated with malice to destroy not just the book and its sales, but the reputations of Mr. Corsi and Mr. Farah."

The piece ("BREAKING! Jerome Corsi's Birther Book Pulled From Shelves!") was published shortly after President Obama released his longform birth certificate--also the time when Corsi's book was released. But, as Forbes' Jeff Bercovici noted, some readers failed to recognize the satire, forcing Esquire to add this disclaimer:

We committed satire this morning to point out the problems with selling and marketing a book that has had its core premise and reason to exist gutted by the news cycle, several weeks in advance of publication. Are its author and publisher chastened? Well, no. They double down, and accuse the President of the United States of perpetrating a fraud on the world by having released a forged birth certificate. Not because this claim is in any way based on reality, but to hold their terribly gullible audience captive to their lies, and to sell books. This is despicable, and deserves only ridicule.

"It was amateurish, it was rank, and it hurt," Klayman said at the press conference, which according to Adweek was attended by just three reporters. "There was nothing stating that it was satire."

Farah and Corsi--who authored the 2004 Swift Boat book that helped sink John Kerry's presidential bid--claim the article defamed them and hurt book sales. They are seeking compensatory damages of at least $100 million, punitive damages of $20 million, plus legal costs. (Forbes noted that, all told, the plaintiffs are demanding $285 million.)

Esquire claimed Wednesday it had not yet seen the lawsuit, but did not sound terribly worried.

"The blog post spoke for itself," a representative for the magazine said in a statement. "It was satire, an age-old and completely legitimate form of expression. Additionally, the piece was tagged as 'humor,' as are all of our frequent satire posts on Esquire's Politics Blog. That was not lost on our observant readers."

You can click here to read a full copy of the lawsuit.