Confessions of a Hoosier Democrat

Blogging Indiana Politics and the 2008 Presidential Race.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Exposing Fox News for who they are...

If anyone wasn't convinced that Fox News is biased towards the right wing they have to look no further than their coverage of the Obama/Madrassa lie.

First "reported" at Insightmag.com (which is owned by the right-leaning Washington Times) the story was that Obama went to school at a madrassa in Jakarta when he was 6. The InsightMag.com story went on to say that Hillary Clinton's campaign is the one who dug up the information.

Now... rather than do the responsible thing and check out the story, like CNN and ABCNews did, they'd have found out that there was nothing unusual to the school Obama attended. "When I was six, I attended an Indonesian public school where a bunch of the kids were Muslim, because the country is 90 percent Muslim," Obama told ABC's Chicago affiliate.

But no... Here's the transcript of Fox&Friends:
DOOCY: Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised — spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father — as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?

[snip]

DOOCY: We should also point out that Barack Obama’s father is the one who gave him the middle name of Hussein. And the thing about the madrassa, and you know, let’s just be honest about this, in the last number of years, madrassas have been, we’ve learned a lot about them, financed by Saudis, they teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us. The big question is was that on the curriculum back then? Probably not, but it was a madrassa and the big question is whether or not any of these revelations about the fact that he was a Muslim — right now I understand he does go to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, although not a regular parishioner — but raised as a Muslim, went to a madrassa.

[snip]

DOOCY: Is it ancient history or do you think madrassa matters. [phone ringing] Josh joins us from Colorado. Good morning to you Josh.

CALLER: What’s up?

DOOCY: What do you think?

CALLER: I think that ultimately this will probably be one of the main reasons is he not elected.

DOOCY: Just the fact that his father was a Muslim, he was raised as a Muslim for awhile, and went to a madrassa school in Jakarta?

CALLER: Right. I mean, you think that would possibly give him better insight on the enemy, maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.

KILMEADE: Well, we’ll see about that. Yeah, Josh says that.

[snip]

CALLER: Hi, good morning. Yes, I think it does matter. The fact that he omitted it must mean that he feels that somebody is going to have an opinion. And President Bush certainly comes under scrutiny, so why shouldn’t he?

KILMEADE: Well, he didn’t admit it. I mean that’s the issue.

CARLSON: Well she said he didn’t.

KILMEADE: Says he didn’t come out, and I was over in Indonesia for five years, or roughly five years, went to a madrassa and there is some reports that Wahhabism was the curriculum there, which is a problem because they start with “We hate America” and work their way back from there.

DOOCY: Well, the way it was framed in one of his biographies, he said, “I was sent first,” this is in Indonesia, “to a catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school.” He doesn’t say, “I went to a madrassa, where they taught Wahhabism.” He simply says, “I went to a predominantly Muslim school.”

CARLSON: Alright, Jim from Alabama, what do you think?

DOOCY: Jim?

CALLER: Yeah.

CARLSON: What do you think?

CALLER: I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to. [Laughter]

CARLSON: We want to be clear, too, that this isn’t all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up.
Later in the day Fox News host John Gibson also parroted the same story:
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The gloves are off: Hillary Clinton is reported to be already digging up the dirt on Barack Obama.

The New York senator has reportedly outed Obama's madrassa past. That's right, the Clinton team is reported to have pulled out all the stops to reveal something Obama would rather you didn't know: that he was educated in a Muslim madrassa.

I was criticized on this show for outing Obama as a smoker, but look at what some anti-Obama Democrats are doing to her political rival now. They are playing the Muslim phobia card.

Is this just the beginning? Is the Obama honeymoon officially over? What other dirty little secrets will come out as they battle it out in the race for the White House? With me now is Republican strategist Terry Holt.

Terry, this is appearing on a Web site today, Insight magazine, which is a subsidiary of The Washington Times. Here's the question. I'll put it up on the screen: Barack's madrassa past. He says that "during the five years that we would live with my stepfather in Indonesia, I was sent first to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominately Muslim school." That's from his book, "The Audacity of Hope."

Now in the meantime, this is what Democrats are saying, according to Insight magazine. They're looking into his background. They're saying: He was a Muslim. He concealed it. His opponents within the Democrats hope this will become a major issue in the campaign.

Now, we have heard about dirty politics before. Republicans aren't involved in this one. What do you think about what's going on over there?

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: John, the last time I checked, there was still a freedom of religion in this country. And this is either a despicable act by an absolutely ruthless Clinton political machine. We know that they are capable of doing this. But it wasn't directly linked to Hillary Clinton. If it wasn't her, then certainly she should disavow it because I think we have spent an awful lot of time in this country trying to tamp down anti-religious sentiments.

But you know, it's also, if you took a page out of the Clinton book and you are really shrewd and you were Barack Obama, you might want to put this out yourself so that you could deal with it early in the political campaign and get it over with. I don't know.

GIBSON: Let me show you what the press secretary to U.S. Senator Barack Obama said today in a statement about this story. They said: "The idea that Senator Barack Obama attended some radical Islamic school is completely ludicrous. Senator Obama is a committed Christian and attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago."

Nonetheless Terry, what damage does it do to Obama to have the word madrassa attached to his name?

HOLT: Well, I think that Barack Obama is such a white-hot political property right now that I'm not sure that it does any long-term damage. He may have to explain this, but, you know, Obama's story is unique to the political field at this point having been educated overseas.

I would also point out that a madrassa before it was politicized and really taken over by the fundamentalists primarily from Saudi Arabia, it was nothing more than a parochial school, and Barack Obama was in school 40 years ago. So I'm not sure that this is a campaign killer, but it does, I think, maybe put on him the burden of explanation, a little bit more about his bio.

GIBSON: Terry, this is a hotly contested race. Senator Clinton thought she had it in the bag and that she was the nominee already. He's made a surprise run at her. Does this give his team a warning of what sort of things are coming before he could possibly capture the nomination?

HOLT: Absolutely. You know, the Clinton team and the machine, make no mistake, it's still in place. They used to call themselves the masters of disaster. And if Barack Obama gets into the race against Clinton, I think that he can count on no small amount of disaster being forced upon him by running against one of the most effective and one of the most negative political machines ever assembled in this country.

But you know what? If you're going to run for president, you have to be prepared for everything and anything to be thrown at you, and in many ways voters are looking not so much for the facts about what you have done in your past, but really how do you handle it? Do you handle it with poise? Do you handle it with honesty and dignity? If he handles this well I'm not sure that this puts him in a corner he can't escape from.

GIBSON: Terry Holt on the madrassa bomb dropped on Barack Obama. Terry, thanks very much.

HOLT: Thanks, John.
Now that is outstanding journalism there... {Ed. Note: Sarcasm decoder rings are available in select boxes of Cracker Jacks.}

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