When President Obama marched into the White House briefing room with his Hawaiian birth certificate in April 2011, he said: "I know that there's going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest."
How right he was. The release of his long-form birth certificate did not eliminate the "birther" movement, which wrongly contends that Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore ineligible to be president. Although conspiracists had demanded its release, once he made public the document it merely shifted the debate. Some birthers accused Obama of forgery, while others turned their focus to his college transcripts in hopes of proving that he had applied for admission as a foreign student. (He had not.)
And this week, birthers seized on a plane crash off Hawaii that killed one person: state public health Director Loretta Fuddy, the woman who verified the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate.
Skeptics turned to social media Thursday to suggest that Obama had played some role in Fuddy's death. Twitter posts included: "The WH tying up loose ends?" "What did she really know?" and "R.I.P. Loretta Fuddy — we'll know the truth about Barack Hussein Obama, regardless."
Donald Trump, a longtime doubter of Obama's birthplace, also weighed in on Twitter: "How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama's 'birth certificate' died in plane crash today. All others lived."
That reaction didn't surprise those who study conspiracy theorists.
Fuddy, 65, was among nine people in a Cessna that crashed into the ocean Wednesday, shortly after leaving Kalaupapa Airport on the island of Molokai about 3:15 p.m. The eight others on the plane, including the pilot, were rescued, but Fuddy "remained in the fuselage of the plane," Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig told KHON-TV. "It's always a difficult situation when you're not able to get everybody out."