After Yahoo! News White House reporter Rachel Rose Hartman “outed” herself earlier this evening as a birther with a piece referring to President Obama’s African country of origin, her Twitter feed has been quiet. She might be away from the computer (it happens), or she might have gone into hiding until Yahoo! finds some way to blame Fox News for the error. Liberal news outlets are used to letting things like this blow over, but Hartman compounded her sin by addressing the cost of the first family’s Africa trip.

Full disclosure: we at Twitchy have no idea what happened at Yahoo! News or who was responsible for the correction. But it takes only a simple Google search to turn up an article by Hartman, published in 2011, in which she takes on birthers head on and notes that Obama “has faced a relentless campaign questioning his U.S. citizenship — and thereby the legitimacy of his presidency — that has disregarded the facts.” [emphasis added]

So what’s fueling the dogged questioning of Obama’s origins? Many critics of the birther movement say its core tenets–and its stubborn resistance to evidence disproving those beliefs–can be traced to racial hostilities. The fundamental birtherist conviction, these critics say, is that an African-American can’t have legitimately won the presidency–and that his elevation to power therefore has to be the result of an elaborate subterfuge.

“There is a real deep-seated and vicious racism at work here in terms of trying to de-legitimate the president,” Peniel Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, told The Ticket.

“This is more than just a conspiracy,” Joseph added. “I think this is fundamentally connected to a conception of white supremacist democracy in this country.”

The same writer who defended Obama against birthers in 2011 could use some backup herself.