Philip Klinkner.

Bill Moyers, well known journalist, documentarian and former White House press secretary, interviewed Professor of Government Philip Klinkner and historians from Princeton, Yale and Harvard’s Kennedy School for a program titled Lest We Forget - Bill Moyers and four historians on the big lie behind the rise of Trump for the Moyers & Company website.

Transcripts of the video interview were published by The Huffington Post, Salon and Daily Kos.

Moyers defined the big lie that “Trump rode to power” as “the Birther lie.”  The program reviewed how the question of President Obama’s birth began and what the motivation for it may have been.

Klinkner, James S. Sherman Professor of Government, began the discussion, explaining, “There were a lot of rumors swirling around him that he was a Muslim, that he was raised in a madrassa, but the most common was that he was in fact not born in the United States and that his birth certificate from Hawaii was in fact a lie, that he was born someplace else, probably Kenya, but nobody was really pretty sure about that. …

“They [the Obama campaign] released a short-form birth certificate. They showed the birth notice in The Honolulu Advertiser at the time, but there was never any real question about this. But nonetheless, this lie began to gain real traction among his opponents.

“And then once he got elected, then again it really sort of took off because it began to sort of seep into a lot of conservative and right-wing media circles, a lot of attention was paid to people who are going into federal court suing, attempting to either have Obama declared ineligible as president or arguing that he should release his long-form birth certificate.”

Later Klinkner analyzed the similarities between Trump and other “demagogues” in recent history.

“And Trump, like many other demagogues throughout American history, have identified racial, ethnic, religious minorities as somehow working from within the country to destroy it [as Hitler identified the Jews in Germany].

“And then he…he likes that, he likes that sort of response that he’s getting from the audience, and he feeds off that, and therefore he throws them even more red meat.”


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