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Pundits blame the victims on Obama Muslim myth

Topics: Barack Obama , misperception , Muslim , myth

Last week, a Pew Research Center poll was released that showed an increase in the proportion of Americans who falsely believe President Obama is a Muslim.

The conversation since then has largely focused on the failings of the public. Slate's Jack Shafer, for instance, said adherents of the Muslim myth are "imagining things" and pointed to a poll finding that "18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth":

Don't these people read newspapers or watch TV? As a matter of fact, many do. According to the poll, 60 percent (PDF) of those who believe Obama is a Muslim also told the pollsters that they learned it from the media. Seeing as I can recall no major or minor media report that presented proof that would convince any sentient creature over the age of 10 that Obama is a Muslim, I'm starting to feel better. The 18 percenters are imagining things...

I'd be more upset about the Pew poll if a Gallup Poll hadn't also reported that 18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth or that only 18 percent of Americans believe all or most of what is published in the New York Times. We can count on stupidity, willful ignorance, and intellectual sloth to plague us 100 percent of the time. All we can do is fight the darkness with light.

Similarly, Matthew Yglesias described the misperception as one of the "odd American beliefs about politics" and noted that "lots of Americans believe lots of weird stuff" such as ESP, haunted houses, astrology, and ghosts.

Other commentators have blamed Obama himself for failing to refute the myth. The Washington Examiner's Byron York, for instance, claimed (absurdly) that "Obama and his aides might also blame themselves for the way they've handled the Muslim issue over the years" such as saying that his father was a Muslim in 1985 and speaking about his family background during a speech in Cairo. Similarly, CNN's Candy Crowley and Time's Amy Sullivan both faulted Obama for not making more public visits to church. However, neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush regularly attended church services (see here and here), and no one accused them of being Muslims.*

But while pundits have been quick to blame Obama and the public, very few commentators have noted the role played by the media and political elites in misleading the public about Obama's religious beliefs. Slate's Dave Weigel came the closest, writing that "At some point it became acceptable to question Obama's American-ness, which naturally begged the question of whether he was a secret Muslim... and the WorldNetDailys, tabloids, and Drudge Reports of the world were ready to keep begging that question."

It's worth examining the scope of this effort, which has been ongoing since Obama's presidential campaign. Here's a sample from a 2009 post:

Frank Gaffney, the right-wing apparatchik last seen suggesting that President Obama's apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was "code" telling "our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them," has written an entire column for the Washington Times arguing that "there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself" (via MM). He bases this false conclusion upon a bizarre and elaborate exegesis of Obama's Cairo speech that would embarrass even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist.

We've repeatedly seen members of the press and political figures promoting this myth (or claims that reinforce it) over the last few years. Just in the last week, Media Matters has documented Fox Nation falsely claiming "Obama Says U.S. Is a 'Muslim Country,'" Fox News running a graphic about Obama titled "Islam or Isn't He?", former Washington Times editor Wes Pruden writing that Obama found "his 'inner Muslim'" in Cairo, and Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb asking "if the president hasn't been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran."

Gaffney later made the bizarre claim that the alleged resemblance of the Missile Defense Agency's new logo to the Islamic crescent and star proved that Obama was trying to submit the United States to sharia law (he subsequently retracted the claim).

More recently, the Washington Times -- led by columnist Jeffrey Kuhner -- has engaged in a months-long propaganda campaign to suggest Obama is a Muslim complete with misleading graphics:

One of the media outlets pushing this misconception is the Washington Times, whose Jeffrey Kuhner famously published the false claim that Obama attended a madrassa as a child. The Times has even utilized images to deliver the message to readers at a glance. For instance:

In a July 8 Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner wrote that "Culturally, [Obama] is America's first Muslim president." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 16 Washington Times analysis, Wesley Pruden speculated that Obama publicly addressed the controversy surrounding the Islamic community center in New York because "he just can't resist throwing (non-alcoholic) wine and roses at Muslims and rotten eggs at Americans who cling to the Judeo-Christian God and guns." The following photo of Obama dressed in clothing worn by nomadic people in Somalia accompanies the piece:

(The photo was reportedly taken during Obama's 2006 trip to Africa and pushed by the Drudge Report during the presidential primary. According to the head of the BBC's Somali service, the clothing has "no religious significance to it whatsoever.")

In an August 17 Washington Times column, Frank Gaffney wrote: "As he hosted the Ramadan fast-breaking dinner at the White House on Friday, Mr. Obama showed his true colors on Shariah. ... Shariah is about power, not faith, and no amount of Obama subsidies, solidarity or spin on behalf of that agenda will persuade the American people to allow the so-called "tradition of Islam" to supplant our civil liberties, form of government and way of life." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 19 Washington Times  column, Kuhner wrote that Obama is "a cultural Muslim who is promoting an anti-American, pro-Islamic agenda." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

In an August 19 Washington Times column, Robert Knight wrote: "The proposed Manhattan mosque is a keg o' dynamite. It has blown up apathetic Americans' benign illusions about Mr. Obama: 'They're going to build what? Where? And he's OK with that?'" Knight also quoted and criticized Obama's statement that "Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America." The following illustration accompanies the piece:

The caption under the illustration states: "Obama's Crescent House"

The Washington Times also tried this tack against Obama's second Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, who Gaffney accused of "Courting Shariah."

Finally, the Washington Times published an editorial last Friday full of innuendo about Obama's religion:

Rumors of Mr. Obama's purported Muslim identity spread in January of 2007 and were tied to Hillary Rodham Clinton operatives, who denied responsibility. The Obama camp responded that "Barack Obama is not and has never been a Muslim. Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian who attends [The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's] United Church of Christ." That seemed definitive.

But in a February 2008 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Obama said the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset." He then recited it, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent." The opening of the Adhan contains the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, proclaiming, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God." Stating this before two Muslims is the traditional requirement for joining the Islamic faith.

Adding fuel to the fire is Mr. Obama's family heritage: born of a Muslim father and raised by a Muslim stepfather. Under Shariah law, having a Muslim father makes one a Muslim, though this custom has no legal standing in the United States.

In a September 2008 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Mr. Obama said, "John McCain has not discussed my Muslim faith," a comment which Mr. Obama's partisans say was taken out of context. In July 2008, he admitted to People Magazine he and his wife don't give Christmas presents to their children. There is also the president's full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which as the Associated Press gently put it, "sounds Muslim to many." In fact, the name "Barack" derives from the Arabic word for "blessing" and is not necessarily Islamic, but when paired with "Hussein," which refers to Muhammad's grandson, acts as an adjective.

Suspicions were raised by Obama presidential policies, such as taking a harder line on Israel, ordering that radical Islamic terrorists be referred to only as "violent extremists" and engaging in an unprecedented and obsequious outreach to Muslim countries. Mr. Obama's bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in April 2009, didn't help matters much.

These and other reasons are why perceptions that Mr. Obama is Muslim keep growing...

None of this confirms the president is a Muslim, but it keeps speculation running wild.

Given this history, there's simply no question that elites have played a role in fostering the misperception that Obama is Muslim. It's also worth noting that describing the myth as an "odd" belief like ESP or the sun revolving around the earth trivializes its political consequences. In reality, conservative and Republican elites have repeatedly leveraged the myth to suggest that Obama is a traitor or disloyal to the United States:

December 2006: Columnist Debbie Schlussel notes that Obama's father was a Muslim and asks "Where will his loyalties be?"

February 2008: Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham calls Obama "this Manchurian candidate" but says "I do not believe Barack Hussein Obama is a terrorist or a Manchurian candidate."

April 2008: During an apperance on Glenn Beck's show on CNN Headline News, Ann Coulter asks "Is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country? ... Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic Party?"

June 2008: Fox News host E.D. Hill asked whether a fist bump between Obama and his wife was "A terrorist fist jab?"

April 2009: Frank Gaffney claims on MSNBC that Obama's apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was "code" telling "our Muslim enemies that you are willing to submit to them."

May 2009: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alleges on "Fox News Sunday" that there is a "weird pattern" in which Obama administration officials were "prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists" and suggests that the Obama administration was proposing "welfare" for terrorists. He then claims on "Meet the Press" that the Obama administration's "highest priority" is to "find some way to defend terrorists."

June 2009: Senator James Inhofe calls Obama's Cairo speech "un-American" and says "I just don't know whose side he's on."

August 2009: On the Lou Dobbs radio show, substitute host Tom Marr says "I have to believe that there is still an inner Muslim within this man that has some sense of sympathy towards the number one enemy of freedom and democracy in the world today, and that is Islamic terrorism."

September 2009: Gaffney says Obama is "pursuing [an agenda] that is indistinguishable in important respects from that of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose mission ladies and gentlemen, we know from a trial in Dallas last year, is to quote to destroy Western civilization from within by its own miserable hand." Conservative pundit Tammy Bruce says on Fox News that Obama has "some malevolence toward this country."

November 2009: Fox's Sean Hannity suggests that President Obama was somehow responsible for the Fort Hood shooting, stating that "our government apparently knew and did nothing" about "a terrorist act" and then asking "What does it say about Barack Obama and our government?"

January 2010: The New York Post publishes an editorial asking "Whose side is the Justice Department on: America's or the terrorists'? ... [T]he president and his administration also owe the American people an answer: Is the government's prosecutorial deck stacked in favor of the terrorists?" Former senator Fred Thompson also jokes that the US could win the war in Afghanistan if we "[j]ust send Obama over there to campaign for the Taliban."

February 2010: During a conference call with conservative bloggers, Senator Kit Bond (R-Mo.) accuses the Obama administration of having a "a terrorist protection policy" and conducting a "jihad to close Guantanamo."

August 2010: National Review's Andrew McCarthy publishes an entire book claiming that Obama is pursuing an agenda that will aid Islamic radicals. The dust jacket states that "the global Islamist movement's jihad ... has found the ideal partner in President Barack Obama, whose Islamist sympathies run deep." Commentary's Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama's "sympathies for the Muslim World take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens" in a post criticizing Obama's statement on the proposed Muslim community center near Ground Zero.

Rather than faulting the public for the weaknesses of human psychology, we should identify the elites who deceive citizens with false information and hold them accountable for their role in fostering this myth. It's time to stop blaming the victims.

Update 8/24 9:09 PM: This Newsweek slideshow again takes the wrong approach. Titled "America the Ignorant: Silly Things We Believe About Witches, Obama and More," the magazine gently mocks the public for "oddball opinions" like misperceptions about Obama's religion while ignoring the role of elites in fostering the myth (though they do call out Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney for promoting false claims about "death panels" and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, respectively).

Update 8/26 9:13 AM: Via Bob Somerby, this Fox News Sunday roundtable below is a classic example of pundits blaming Obama and the public for the myth while failing to identify the elites who have promoted it. Only the last speaker, Juan Williams, even mentions the fact that these misconceptions were fostered by many of Obama's critics:

WALLACE: And it's time now for our Sunday group, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard; Nina Easton from Fortune magazine; Kevin Madden, a first-timer on the panel -- he's a Republican strategist who was Mitt Romney's spokesman during his run for president -- and Juan Williams from National Public Radio.

So, Bill Burton says Americans know the president is a committed Christian. But according to a couple of new polls, Steve Hayes, that's not so. And let's put them up on the screen.

A Pew poll taken before the president's comments about the mosque -- and this is before the president's comments about the mosque -- near Ground Zero shows 18 percent of Americans now believe he's Muslim. That's up from 12 percent when he ran for president.

And in a Time Magazine poll taken after his comments about the mosque, 24 percent believe he's Muslim. Only 47 percent think he's Christian. Steve, how do you explain this growing misperception of a sitting president?

HAYES: Well, I think we spend -- he spends a lot less time talking about his faith in public than George W. Bush, for instance. And he spends a lot of time -- an inordinate amount of time, I would say -- talking about extolling the virtues of Islam.

It's part of his strategy. It's his outreach to the Muslim world. He's focused on it. He's given major speeches about it. We haven't seen him give similar speeches extolling the virtues of Christianity or Judaism or something else. So I think people are making...

WALLACE: Well, in fairness... HAYES: ... a leap -- and it is a leap...

WALLACE: I mean, for instance, at one of the prayer services he talked about Jesus and about the resurrection. He hasn't been seen publicly going to church that often. But he has spoken about his faith.

HAYES: That's part of it. It's not that he hasn't spoken about it. It's that he hasn't given the high profile speeches like the one he gave in Cairo.

And he's spent a lot of time talking about conducting outreach to what he calls the Muslim world. I think people are reasoning from that, leaping from that, to a conclusion that's not warranted by the evidence, obviously.

WALLACE: Nina?

EASTON: Well, I think it predates his current outreach to the Muslim community. Nearly half of the people -- in September of '08, before the election, nearly half of Americans couldn't identify him as Christian.

He's got this odd background, this childhood where he was -- his father was Muslim -- his father who he didn't know, by the way, only spent a month with him. His father, who was Muslim, turned atheist. He's got a mother who was secular. He went to school in Indonesia. He has these ties to Kenya. So it's kind of a blur for people anyway.

During the campaign he spent a lot of time pushing back on that. He gave an interview to Newsweek and he talked about Jesus and he talked about prayer. And he -- they spent a lot of time talking about this.

They've made the decision now as a sitting president -- because of the Reverend Wright controversy, I think, he doesn't want to publicly go to church every Sunday somewhere. He doesn't want to disrupt services, is what he says.

But as a -- I think the effect of that is it leaves this confusion in people's minds, and they're able to -- see, the people who think he's Muslim are the people who tend to oppose him, so...

WALLACE: Well, I was going to get to that, Kevin.

How much of this has nothing to do with his background and -- or his father, and more to do with the fact that as opposition to his policies grows, that negative feelings about him personally also grow?

MADDEN: Well, I think that's one of the ways that you explain the trend line going in the wrong direction for the White House. But I do think that this is a lot more attributable to the way people get and retain information than it is sort of malevolent intentions by a lot of voters out there.

You know, we live in this world where there's a wealth of information. And where there's a wealth of information, there's a poverty of attention. So you have a lot of people out there...

WALLACE: Also a wealth of misinformation.

MADDEN: Correct. No, that's absolutely correct. And I think you have a lot of people who witness this debate and this discussion. And as they witness this debate and this discussion, it is the ideal breeding ground for a lot of misinformation.

So when you have folks out there -- and the interesting thing I found about the Pew poll was that 60 percent of the people said that they got their information from the media. And as we watch the media today, as we watched it this week, there is this very robust debate -- is why people thought he was a Muslim, was it true that he was, was it not true.

And because of that, people witnessed that debate and then they formed their own conclusions. And a lot of it are wrong conclusions that have to do on incorrect information.

WALLACE: Juan, I want you to weigh in on this, but also I want you to answer another question. How important is it for the president politically to set the record straight that he's a Christian?

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think it's going to help him with people who are his critics, and I think that's largely where this is coming from.

I disagree. I think that this is an malevolent effort by people who are his critics to make him out to be the other in American life, that he's not really an American, he's some sort of Manchurian candidate. I mean, this...

WALLACE: But wait a minute. The Time Magazine poll shows that only 40 percent of all Americans -- this isn't Republicans. Forty- seven percent of all Americans think he's Christian. So there's a pretty widespread feeling.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. It's mostly Republicans. I'm telling you...

(UNKNOWN): There are a lot of Democrats in there as well.

EASTON: Yeah, there's a lot of Democrats...

(UNKNOWN): There are a lot of Democrats.

WILLIAMS: To me, it's overwhelmingly coming from the critics. I think it's the same people who say, you know, this guy's a socialist. I think it's now about a third of Americans who -- and overwhelmingly Republicans, who say he wasn't born in the country, people who want to say that he favors whites over blacks in terms of what the Justice Department is doing with the New Black Panther Party. It's about reparations for slavery.

I think these are people who are uncomfortable with a black president or uncomfortable with his policies. They don't like Barack Obama.

WALLACE: But why would it be growing -- why would it be growing? I mean, he's been in office a year and a half. Would you think that people would have more of a sense...

WILLIAMS: I don't know if you noticed, but his approval ratings have been sinking. And as his approval ratings have been sinking, I think more people feel, you know, absolutely unleashed in terms of their criticism.

And I think the stuff that's coming from the right wing, from Rush Limbaugh and the like -- you know, Imam Obama and all that -- that has become...

WALLACE: Steve?

WILLIAMS: ... more (inaudible).

HAYES: Look, his approval ratings aren't sinking because people have the misunderstanding that he's a Muslim. His approval ratings are sinking because the economy is in the tank. That's, I think, the fundamental problem.

This is not because there's some concerted campaign to make him out to be the other, to make him out to be a Muslim. I think it has to do with people of -- generally of good faith who are misunderstanding the campaign that the White House has launched and run on a sustained way for 19 months of a presidency in outreach to the Muslim world.

* Contrary to Crowley and Sullivan's suggestion, more aggressive promotion of Obama's Christian faith may not be effective in reducing misperceptions about his religion. In research with Jason Reifler and undergraduate students at Duke (PDF), I found that the strategy of Obama presenting himself as a Christian appeared to make Republicans more likely to endorse the Muslim myth -- a finding that is consistent with the backfire effect Reifler and I found in previous research on correcting misperceptions (PDF).

[Cross-posted to brendan-nyhan.com and Huffington Post]

 

Comments
Mike E:

Who cares if Obama is Muslim (as Islamic law dictates) or Christian (as his defenders in the media elite keep saying) or not religious either way (as the president seems to be). The important issue is that he is staggeringly incompetent. The sooner the American left can get over its obsession with the race, religion and ethnic background of its candidates and start nominating people based on competence the sooner they will stop damaging their brand with B team individuals like Obama.

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Mike E:

"We've repeatedly seen members of the press and political figures promoting this myth (or claims that reinforce it) over the last few years. Just in the last week, Media Matters has documented Fox Nation falsely claiming "Obama Says U.S. Is a 'Muslim Country,'" Fox News running a graphic about Obama titled "Islam or Isn't He?", former Washington Times editor Wes Pruden writing that Obama found "his 'inner Muslim'" in Cairo, and Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb asking "if the president hasn't been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran.""

Seriously? You are going to use a lefty propaganda outfit like media matters misrepresenting Fox news (the least biased of Americans major news out lets) to inform your debate. What a joke.

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CompCon:

"The Obama camp responded that "Barack Obama is not and has never been a Muslim. Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian who attends [The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's] United Church of Christ."

Isn't that itself enough to fuel the doubts? That was a complete and blatant lie. Why did they feel necessary to not say that Obama isn't currently a muslim but that he was never muslim. His own book claims otherwise. He attended an islamic school in Indonesia and most certainly was required to pray during school.

Had they simply stated the truth - "Obama is a christian" it might have died but whoever felt it necessary to turn the denial into an easily proven lie should take some responsibility for the public not trusting additional statements about his religion. He was caught lying about it once, why trust him when he talks about it again?

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AlanSnipes:

@compcon:
You are really lame.
People like you perpetuate falsehoods and then blame the person who the falsehood is about. Typical right wing bigotry.
Of course, like everyone else on the right, you never take responsibility for what you do.
Lying for the further glorification of the right is acceptable.

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sjt22:

Seriously? You are going to use a lefty propaganda outfit like media matters misrepresenting Fox news (the least biased of Americans major news out lets) to inform your debate. What a joke.

Hysterical! What a complete 180 from reality. I love that since you think Fox News isn't biased, MM pointing out their blatant bias somehow makes them the propaganda outfit. Beautiful!

War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is Strength!

Isn't that itself enough to fuel the doubts? That was a complete and blatant lie. Why did they feel necessary to not say that Obama isn't currently a muslim but that he was never muslim. His own book claims otherwise. He attended an islamic school in Indonesia and most certainly was required to pray during school.

No, he didn't. He attended public school, not a madrassa. His mother was a Christian, and his father was born Muslim but was an atheist. What part of that makes him muslim?

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CompCon:

Alan:

Typical leftwing strategy is to call everyone a bigot who says something they don't like.

People think Obama is muslim because he is a lying sack of crap. I don't think so because he has a god complex and wouldn't worship someone he thinks is below himself.

But like Mike E stated - the important thing isn't Obama's lies about his religion - it is his lies about healthcare, the economy, jobs, stimulus, and foreign policy that is important. Those are the lies people really care about - no matter how much liberals try to make a mountain out of this molehill so people quit looking at the way he is ruining the country.

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Mike E:

"You are really lame.
People like you perpetuate falsehoods and then blame the person who the falsehood is about. Typical right wing bigotry.
Of course, like everyone else on the right, you never take responsibility for what you do.
Lying for the further glorification of the right is acceptable."

Alan Snipes. You blustered and filibustered a lot but did not address the specific points raised by Compcon.

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Mike E:

sjt33

You are funny. A UCLA journalism school study showed that fox is slightly right of center, a little less that CNN is left of center. All othe US media (ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, NYT et. al. are further left than CNN). You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!

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dpearl:

"No, he didn't. He attended public school, not a madrassa. His mother was a Christian, and his father was born Muslim but was an atheist. What part of that makes him muslim?"

sjt22: Are you sure that the President's father was born a Muslim? I thought his grandfather converted to Islam later in life.

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StatyPolly:

From Huff Post.

"And Obama has acknowleged that as a child in Indonesia he did attend a "Muslim school."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/17/kerrey-says-obama-attende_n_77209.html

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dpearl:

"A UCLA journalism school study showed that fox is slightly right of center, a little less that CNN is left of center. All othe US media (ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, NYT et. al. are further left than CNN). You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!"

Mike E: The study you are referring to by Groseclose & Milyo (Quarterly Journal of Economics, Nov 2005) did not rate any MSNBC shows; did not rate networks generally at all; and found ABC Good Morning America, PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown all more centrist than Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume.
Overall, I did not care for their methodology though, which was to look at which sources were most often quoted by the media outlet and then to compare them with the ADA rankings for Senators who quoted the same sources in 1993-1999. By their methodology the Drudge report came out as a left-of center media outlet and the ACLU was listed as a right of center organization. You can see how this methodology would not work simply by looking above. Notice that StayPolly (certainly a conservative commentator) quotes the Huffington Post. The Grosely & Milyo assumption that people tend to quote think tanks and organizations they agree with is actually nothing more than an extremely loose correlation and not a good foundation for a quantitative study of media bias.

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AySz88:

And just peeking at the press release there's another problem with interpreting that study: they were looking at Fox's news stories, instead of "Fox News" - the Glenn Beck / O'Reilly / etc. block of "opinion" programming that gets all the attention. (Indeed, Glenn Beck wasn't even around on Fox when the study was conducted five years ago...) In fact, that study also shows that the Wall Street Journal and the Drudge Report's "news" lean left, if you ignore the opinion sprinkled around. If you take that all literally, what the UCLA study ends up showing is that, in journalism...well, the truth has a well-known liberal bias. Not even the groups with the most right-wing views can end up making the truth go their way when adhering to the standards of journalism. If you want to take it literally, of course. =P

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CompCon:

Is the following a direct quote from Obama's book or not?

"In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies."

And you defenders still defend that he never attended a muslim school even though he wrote that he did?

Why don't you just admit that he was raised muslim? That's what keeps this alive. You are so afraid to even admit what he did in his book that people wonder why you are lying about his background. Why are you so afraid of people knowing how he was raised?

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Mike E:

Dpearl and Ay

Way to spin.

The study found...

"Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left."

Those liberals who are mad at "Faux" News are just angry because the pro-dem monopoly of major news outlets is gone. Fox is the only way, in this country, to get a unvarnished news, from a major outlet, that is free from leftist bias.

Thus, it is insane that Neyhan should use critisism of centrist Fox news, by lefty propaganda outfit Media Matters, of all places, to try and make his point.

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dpearl:

"Is the following a direct quote from Obama's book or not? In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies."

CompCon: Can you give me a page number on that? I would like to check that out in context.

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sjt22:

Are you sure that the President's father was born a Muslim? I thought his grandfather converted to Islam later in life

I know that his father's family was muslim, not sure if it was for his father's whole life or if his grandfather converted later. But either way, Obama's father clearly wasn't very attached to being a Muslim, since he became a self professed atheist and married a Christian woman.

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sjt22:

You are funny. A UCLA journalism school study showed that fox is slightly right of center, a little less that CNN is left of center. All othe US media (ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, NYT et. al. are further left than CNN). You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!

You're so detached from facts, you couldn't even get my bloody screen name correct!

The "study" in question didn't rate any of Fox News's opinion and commentary shows, which make up the vast majority of their programming and dominate the primetime hours. Fox News programming has been shown to be dishonest, slanted a biased again and again. And again, and again, and again, and again, and...

If we really want to quote studies, why not quote the multiple surveys which have shown that Fox News viewers tend to be more ignorant of basic political facts than viewers of any other network by a large margin?

Personally I'm not sure why you would trust a network whose second biggest shareholder (a man who has bragged about being able to influence its content) is also a funding source for the Evil Ground Zero Mosque! Its obviously a terrorist network!

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sjt22:

Why don't you just admit that he was raised muslim? That's what keeps this alive. You are so afraid to even admit what he did in his book that people wonder why you are lying about his background. Why are you so afraid of people knowing how he was raised?

Because he wasn't. His father was atheist, his mother was a christian, as is he. He went to a public school which had children of all faiths in attendance, not a Madrassa.

I'm not afraid to speak the truth, because that is the truth.

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sjt22:

Thus, it is insane that Neyhan should use critisism of centrist Fox news, by lefty propaganda outfit Media Matters, of all places, to try and make his point.

Still hysterical. You'd think it would get less funny, but somehow its just as funny every time you try to say things like this. Its like watching a skateboarder try to do a trick and faceplant.

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s.b.:

I'm sorry I don't understand why you say "falsely" believe President Obama is a Muslim.

The question was not is President Obama a PRACTICING MUSLIM? to which of course the answer is no.

If the question was is President Obama a Muslim? The answer is most undeniably yes. He is an ethinic Muslim who is a practicing Christian.

Just like I am an ethnic Jew who is a practicing atheist. Obama is in fact more Muslim than I am a Jew because he was reared by a practicing Muslim stepfather in a Muslim country (Indonesia). I come from a long line of atheist Jews and was not raised by Jews in a Jewish Country.

So if I had a practicing Jewish Mother, and were raised by a practicing Jewish Stepmother in Israel but converted to Christianity, sort of, in a very politically active church for political reasons, would I still be a Jew?

Of course I would.

Firstly, Jeramiah Wright's church is more of a political entity than a Christian house of worship most Americans could recognize. (hence part of the confusion) Second of all, Obama was born and raised Muslim.

The fact that he tries to hide and deny his heritage and the US Media allows it is an issue, not that his background is Muslim.

I do take offence however with you saying that it is a false idea that Obama is Muslim. He is not a practicing Muslim. He is however ethnically Muslim. Perhaps the ambiguity in the question is deliberate. I don't know. As a pollster that analysis from you would be more interesting.

Does it matter politically? It may.

Would a President born to a Jewish Mother and raised by a Jewish Mother in a Jewish country have a different position on Israel and Iran than a President born to a Muslim father and raised by a Muslim father in a Muslim Country?

Seemingly, given President Obama's indifference to a nuclear Iran and coolness towards Israel's right to defend itself.

That is why it probably matters and the American people have a right to know about a President's background. The US press should do their jobs and be neutral in reporting Obama's past with accuracy instead of making deamons out of anyone who disagrees with their Messiah or accusing them of racism if they understand Obama's heritage.

The US media didn't do its job during the last election and is still just calling Americans stupid or crazy for having more understanding of Obama's heritage than they are willing to explore.

Calling anyone who disagrees with Obama stupid or crazy or "falsely" believing is getting tired.

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s.b.:

btw saying his father wasn't Muslim when he was born is like saying Kareen Abdul Jabar wasn't muslim when he changed his name.

Barrack Hussein is not a Kenyan Lua name. I don't know of any non-Muslim African in America who would name their child Barrack Hussein.

Of course his father was Muslim when he was born.

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sjt22:

The question was not is President Obama a PRACTICING MUSLIM? to which of course the answer is no.

Except that IS the question. Is he a muslim? Answer: no. End of story. Don't try to parse it with some made crap about "ethnic muslims" and how the question isn't clear and all that.

That is why it probably matters and the American people have a right to know about a President's background. The US press should do their jobs and be neutral in reporting Obama's past with accuracy instead of making deamons out of anyone who disagrees with their Messiah or accusing them of racism if they understand Obama's heritage.

He was born to an atheist father and a Christian mother, and his stepfather was only in his life for part of it. His stepfather was not a devout muslim either. Obama spent most of his childhood in Hawaii, usually under the care of his grandparents.

The laziness of the US press is part of the reason why this myth of him being a muslim persists. As for "accusing people of racism", its pretty obvious that when people continually question his background and call him a muslim or secret muslim agent, despite all the facts to the contrary, they are attempting to "other" him in order to legitimize his Presidency. That's why they harp about his birth certificate. That's why they keep up with this crap about his religion. Politics 101, its not that complicated.

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John:

"He is an ethinic Muslim......"

Say what? Are you trying to say Obama is really from Bosnia, the only place where muslims are sometimes classified as an ethnic group?

Otherwise the term is blatantly nonsense.

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s.b.:

He is an ethnic Muslim, just like I am an ethnic Jew. I don't believe nor do I practice any religion. I am however still a Jew, just as Obama is absolutely, without a doubt, a Muslim who practices the Christian faith, when it's poltically convenient (also part of the problem). And yes ethnic Muslims have been killed in Bosnia and elsewhere regardless of what religion they practice. So thank-you for proving my point.

If I were asked on a questionaire if I am a Jew I would say yes, but I practice no religion.

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AySz88:

Uh, let's get something straight. Judaism is a special case - it is an "ethnoreligious group" in that it is used both a religious classification and an ethnic classification. In modern times, that's not usually the case at all. Don't assume that all religions work the same way as yours.

It also wouldn't even make sense if Islam *was* an ethnoreligous group. The ethnic classification that, so to say, "goes along" with Muslim is "Arab". And Obama is half-black, not half-Arab.

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AySz88:

Correction about "Don't assume that all religions work the same way as yours." - Sorry, I meant ethnicities, not religions.

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CompCon:

sjt22: "Except that IS the question. Is he a muslim?"

You have Bill Clinton to thank for part of this controversy, 'That depends on the meaning of the word "is"'.

The Obama people didn't stop at claiming that he was not currently a muslim at that time - they claimed he never was, never prayed a muslim prayer, never attended a muslim school, and never had any muslim background whatsoever. Those were all lies. If they told such obvious lied about his past (his own book contradicted all of those points) then why would anyone believe they were telling the truth about the present?

So all the liberals look the other way, "wink wink, nod nod", when people claim he asbolutely positively never was in any way shape or form a muslim knowing what a farce that lie is and then pretend to be outraged when people who know that is a lie question if it is also a lie about what religion he is now.

This if faux outrage. Even liberals aren't this stupid. Even those that still support this horrible president.

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CompCon:

"victims" Really, Brendan. That's a bit of political hyperbole, isn't it? Now Obama is a "victim"? That's pathetic.

You liberals think a person can be victimized by people thinking they are one religion or another? That's a royal piece of bigotry.

I don't think of myself as a victim when people question my religious beliefs. But then again, I'm not an Obama supporter.

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dpearl:

"He is an ethinic Muslim......"

My father has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and I have a Ph.D. in Statistics. That does not make my children ethnic nerds.

s.b.: No demographer would ever use the term ethnic in the way you have. The President's family on his mother's side have English ancestry. On his father's side they are Luo - which is an ethnic grouping living mainly in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Historically several religions are practiced by this ethnic group. The President's grandfather was affiliated with the traditional religion early in life then converted to Christianity then converted again to Islam. Today Christianity is by far the dominate religion of the Luo people having replaced the traditional religion that was dominate earlier. A few, like several in the immediate group around the President's grandfather are Muslim.

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StatyPolly:

Muslims give bobo a 78% job approval. Way higher than any other religion group.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/142700/Muslims-Give-Obama-Highest-Job-Approval-Mormons-Lowest.aspx

Game knows game, baby.

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