WASHINGTON – She has repeatedly questioned whether President Obama was born in the United States, and stated, as if it were fact, even though it’s not, that former President Bill Clinton had a sexually transmitted disease.
She has reposted to the Web a wide array of far-right opinion pieces, including one that bemoans “lazy black people” who drink Colt 45 and watch Oprah and another that says that majority-Muslim nations are prone to genocide.
She’s “Kathy from Williamsville,” and now she is running for Congress.
Kathy Weppner, a one-time WBEN radio personality known for her right-wing Saturday afternoon talk show and her phone calls to Rush Limbaugh, is now the candidate backed by Republican Party leaders challenging Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, in New York’s 26th Congressional District.
Which raises the question: How does a tea party Republican such as Weppner – who has also reposted articles that gays and immigrants could see as inflammatory – win in a Buffalo-based district that Higgins carried by 46 points in 2012 and that Obama won by nearly 30 points that year?
Weppner refused to be interviewed for this story, instead answering questions via email.
“I am surprised you’d focus on the minutia of radio talk show fodder, which is nothing more than food-for-thought discussion,” she wrote.
But Nicholas A. Langworthy, the Erie County Republican chairman, acknowledged that Weppner faces long odds. Noting that “the party has an obligation to run a candidate,” Langworthy said he endorsed her bid even though he doesn’t agree with everything she has said in the past.
“I think that she is going to represent the values of the Republican Party in this campaign and would in Congress,” Langworthy said.
Host of StraightTalk
Weppner, the host of “StraightTalk with Kathy Weppner” from 2005 to 2012, declared her candidacy for Congress on March 7, surrounded by Langworthy and other Republican leaders. That prompted The Buffalo News to review some of her radio comments as well as her Web postings at http://str8talk.wordpress.com, which are preserved on the Wayback Machine Internet archive.
The research shows that Weppner took a keen interest in the “birther” movement, which raised questions about whether Obama was born in the United States and, therefore, eligible to be president.
Weppner hosted Orly Taitz, one of the founders of the movement, on her radio show, and questioned the credibility of Obama’s birth certificate both on that show and on a 2010 Blog Talk Radio appearance in which Weppner said: “What Obama’s campaign has put out is not a birth certificate.”
Weppner was referring to a short-form birth certificate issued by the Hawaii Department of Health and released by Obama’s campaign in 2007. Obama later asked Hawaii for a copy of a longer version of his birth certificate and then posted it to the White House website in 2011 in hopes of quelling the controversy over his qualifications.
Asked about her involvement in the birther movement and whether she still believes that Obama may not have been born in America, Weppner wrote: “That question has already been decided.”
She also wrote: “I believe, at that time, Mr. Obama’s submission of a ‘short-form’ birth certificate was a topic of conversation nationally as there were many lawsuits attempting to see his long-form birth certificate. I found it interesting that there was such resistance to produce this when it should have been simple. Mr. Obama Is our President.”
Bush ‘admitted’ cocaine?
On that same Blog Talk Radio program where she questioned Obama’s qualifications, Weppner said that when Bill Clinton’s medical records were released, “they found out that he had VD.”
An extensive Internet search revealed no evidence that Clinton ever had such a condition. In fact, in response to Internet rumors and reporters’ inquiries, Clinton’s physician, Dr. Connie Mariano, issued a report in 1996 that said Clinton had “no history of hypertension, diabetes, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted disease, cancer, stroke or heart disease.”
Presented with that information, Weppner wrote: “If I confused decades-old issues during the middle of a brief ambush interview that I ended by hanging up, if I did not properly cite facts or sources on this issue, my sincere apologies to listeners and to Mr. Clinton.”
But in her 331-word response to that question about Clinton, Weppner also cited Obama’s use of cocaine – which he acknowledged in a book – and added: “Bush Jr admitted previous coke use.”
An extensive Internet search revealed no evidence that former President George W. Bush ever admitted to using cocaine. And when a biographer alleged that Bush had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972, a Bush spokesman called that allegation “absolutely untrue.”
Asked a follow-up question about her untrue statement about the former Republican president, Weppner cited three articles that cited allegations that he had used cocaine – but none include an admission from Bush that he used the drug.
In addition to appearing on her Saturday afternoon radio program, Weppner for many years posted items – often written by someone else – to the Internet at str8talk.wordpress.com.
For example, shortly after Obama’s election in 2008, she posted a piece from the Free Republic, a far-right website, called “White Guilt Is Dead.” Written by Tom Adkins, the founder of CommonConservative.com, the essay said that because the nation had elected a black president, white people no longer had any reason to feel guilty.
“I’ve always despised lazy white people,” Adkins wrote. “Now, I can talk smack about lazy black people. You’re poor because you quit school, did drugs, had three kids with three different fathers, and refuse to work. So when you plop your Colt 45-swilling, Oprah watchin’ butt on the couch and complain ‘Da Man is keepin’ me down,’ allow me to inform you: Da Man is now black. You have no excuses.”
Asked if she saw that language as racially insensitive, Weppner replied: “I find your question as insulting as the stereotypes printed in this Philadelphia Inquirer editorial titled ‘White Guilt is Dead.’ …I was surprised the Inquirer printed this. Did you pose the same question to their editors?”
Asked about the essay, Bill Marimow, the editor of the Inquirer, said his paper ran a similar article by Adkins, with the same theme. But the version from the Inquirer archive does not include the “Colt 45-swilling” quote and was not an Inquirer editorial but an independent opinion piece.
Weppner’s blog also included several posts that were highly critical of Islam, including an essay that alleged that the odds of genocide grow along with the size of the country’s Muslim population.
“After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide: Turkey, Indonesia and UAE (United Arab Emirates),” the essay said.
“THIS IS AN EXCELLENT SYNOPSIS OF ISLAM AND HOW IT WORKS,” Weppner posted.
When The News asked her about the points made in that essay, Weppner cited the Ottoman Turks’ genocide of the Armenian minority a century ago – which the Turks have long disputed – and a 2001 article from the British newspaper the Guardian that detailed “ethnic cleansing perpetrated by indigenous tribal fighters” in Borneo that eventually claimed at least 500 lives.
Weppner had other postings to the Web and statements on the radio over the years. They include:
• In 2006, she posted to the Web an essay called “21 things you must believe to be a good Democrat.” Among them was: “6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.”
Asked if she thinks homosexuality is unnatural, Weppner evaded the question and wrote: “You apparently missed the humor and irony” of the essay.
• In 2007, she criticized an immigration bill that was before Congress, saying it amounted to amnesty for illegal immigrants and adding: “If people truly want to be reunited with their families they can go home!”
Asked about the quote this month, she wrote: “Do you really think a complex issue such as immigration can be solved by asking a single, seven-year old, out-of-context question such as posed?”
• In 2009, she reposted an essay called “Who Am I?” that says: “I was born in one country, raised in another. My father was born in another country. I was not his only child. He fathered several children with numerous women.” And it ends with the words: “Who am I? ADOLF HITLER. WHO WERE YOU THINKING OF?”
Asked if she thought the essay drew parallels between Hitler and Obama, Weppner wrote: “To me the article was a humorous way to warn of the dangers of not vetting a candidate properly, of relying on press reports that sound nice but have no substance…”
Continuing to criticize The News’ line of questioning, she said: “Should I assume the NEWS supports the Obama administration’s new proposal to have the federal government investigate and monitor how newsroom editors decide topics and how topics affect policy?”
Asked about that purported policy, Debra Gersh Hernandez, spokesperson for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said: “I have no idea what she’s talking about.”