Smear Campaign

Friday, October 10, 2008


There's been a lot of coverage of attempts to convince voters that Barack Obama is a Muslim. But according to a report released by the liberal watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, no one's talking about the underlying presumption: Muslim is a pejorative term. FAIR's senior analyst Steve Rendall explains.

Comments [17]


Thank you for this thoughtful and informative piece; this is exactly why I value "On the Media".

I've added a link to this on my social networking site.

Oct. 16 2008 07:35 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Frankly, my major concern about Obama is his avowed Christianity, as is Palin's Pentacostalism my major concern about her. I worry that irrational religious beliefs may interfere with the type of rational deliberation I expect of a national leader.

It clearly interferes with the rational deliberations of our voters, which is a source of national shame.

I was especially charmed by A. Forslund's reminding us of the true meaning of Anti-Semitism, though Isa Kocher wrote beautifully, as well.

Oct. 15 2008 03:15 PM
Brad from Undecided Voter

I expect unbiased coverage and that's not what I heard.

OBAMA IS In FACT A CHIRSTIAN NOT A MUSLIM. I write this in capital letters because the story I heard on the radio glossed over this piece of information. What listeners heards was " attempts to convince voters that Barack Obama is a Muslim and no one's talking about the underlying presumption". I didn't hear the story correct the rumor. I heard your program circulate them.

I was expecting a story focusing on correcting the innacuracies and setting the story straight. Thats' not what I heard. OBAMA is a Christian. Unfortunately what I heard sounded like a thinly veiled politically motivated story bringing up again inacurate stories of Barack being a Muslim and even discussing him being a "double agent" . What I heard was your program circulating the rumors not correcting them.

What if the same media were to tell a story about airline pilots by first discussing how folks question McCains fitness for duty based on his age of 72. Then the article stated that commercial airline pilots are required to retire before age 65. What if they talked about the qualifications of a copilot flying with a 65 year old pilot. The copilot must not be a rookie since she may soon be landing the plane. Folks would be crying "biased piece"

As an undecided voter I look to on the media for unbiased coverage. That's not what I am getting. I expect better.

Oct. 14 2008 12:33 AM
Constance Wiggins from Berkeley, California

So, America is ready for an African-American president just not an Arab, who knew? America can't even get ethnicity right. Obama is at least half Kansan/Hawaiian, you can't get anymore American than that. He self-identifies as African-American. That is his right. Religion (any religion) has NO place in American politics, it is a dangerous trend that will destroy us in the end. People are not rational when it comes to religious beliefs so it is better to keep those beliefs to oneself.

Oct. 13 2008 02:34 PM
Pervy Grin

In this story it was taken as a given that it would be just fine for the PTOUS to be a Muslim, and a false equivalence was made with anti-semitism. The fact that Muslims, not Jews, attacked us on 9/11 and that Muslims, not Jews, attack others would do not share their faith worldwide was not even considered. Bruce Bower and Robert Spencer were dismissed as Islamophobes, with no examination of the factualness of their writing. Spencer cites the Koran, Sunna, and Hadith, as well as various schools of Islamic jurisprudence and teachings of leading imams. Your guest cited no sources or evidence.
The so-called “Secret plan” of Muslims to “take over the world” that he referred to is not so secret at all. It is laid out specifically in the Koran as duty of all Muslims to convert Dar-al-Harb to Dar-al-Islam, through dawa and jihad. No wonder so many lefties think Islam is all fuzzy and cuddly and nothing to fear if this is the kind of report they get their information from.

Oct. 13 2008 01:42 PM
Alex from San Francisco

To suggest that a dislike of a set of beliefs is racist is complete nonsense. The attempted association of opposition to Islam and anti-"semitism" (insofar as it is based on race) is absurd. This is similar to attempts Jewish extremists to declare anyone and everyone a racist who dares to criticize some act of Israel, no matter how unjust or unrelated to race, or to criticize aspects of the religious beliefs or practices of Jews.

This kind of left-wing extremist reporting is unbecoming of NPR. One can also factually report upon topics factually and it is not necessary to accept the beliefs of every group as equal. In fact, when one observes that the leading figure of a religion was a violent figure and proposed unjust moral tenants, this is not related to race. Islam is dangerous and unethical, it merely takes an honest effort to read the Koran and learn the Hadith to understand this. On the Media is playing on the listeners' ignorance and desire for relativism.

Oct. 13 2008 03:06 AM
A. Forslund from Seattle USA

This story is right on.

However, to say that Anti-Semitic is only connected to those who hate or dislike Jews is irksome since both Jew and Muslims ARE Semites.

To make the claim that Islam is some how bad is just as Anti-Semitic as saying being a Jew is bad.

Yet, these people that comment on Anti-Semitism don't seem to realize this.

If you are Anti-Semitic then you hold a dislike for both not just one.

Oct. 12 2008 10:02 PM
Jeff Powell

Your guest asked a rhetorical question about how we got to 2008 and still face the issue that being a Muslim is a strike against a public figure. Get used to it. America has a huge problem with this, and Muslims are far from the only victims.

I'm an atheist. I could never be elected president - or to any other major office - as a result. Polls regularly say that people would rather vote for a homosexual than an atheist, though it's clear they'd rather not make such a choice.

America is full of hatreds and biases. Aheists are just another of the many people regularly discriminated against in this nation. Muslims are perhaps newer to the problem - since 9/11 - but atheists have suffered at least as long. Back in 1987 George H. W. Bush said: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

With our leaders willing to say such things in public, on the record, discrimination is going to run rampant. McCain and Palin may be encouraging hatred in their rallies, but they're not the first to do so in the US.

In such an environment, it's a miracle that Obama has gotten as far as he has in the election. It will be interesting to see if anything changes should he be elected, but it's probably too much to hope for.

Oct. 12 2008 06:18 PM

There's an enormous hole in your logic and it's shameful you either didn't see it, or refused to address it.

We've been told for 8 years we are in a war against Islamofacism. We haven't been told we are in a war against Judeofacism. There's an enormous difference in attacking Obama as secret Muslim than as secret Jew.

If we *are* in a war against Islamofacism, than if there is any truth to the claim that Obama is a secret Muslim, than that's a hell of a lot more interesting and relevant than if he were a secret Jew.

I think Obama is a Christian, and I am voting for him. I am only discussing the logic hole in this segment. My guess is that your overweening need to be politically correct keeps you from mentioning this.

There is apparently a similar issue with Sarah Palin. Is she an evangelist or a pentecostelist? Apparently it matters, in ways that calling her a secret Jew would not. So why not a segment on the bigotry against pentecostelists?

(Websites should not require Javascript to submit comments -- crap on you.)

Oct. 12 2008 05:00 PM
Hussein Kamel from Tucson, Arizona

Finally somebody brings this up. None of the major news organization mentioned or disussed this troubling exchange. Many years ago I served on a university committee in the Middle East. A professor of Islamic Theology was up for promotion. While examining his publications, I discovered that he had quoted "The protocols of the Elders of Zion" as a reference, I blocked his promotion. I may have lost some friends, but they would be of the same ilk as those who promote Islamophobia here today. I do not need such friends. sign me "Hussein"

Oct. 12 2008 10:24 AM

Isa Kocher (@1) boy blog

Oct. 12 2008 09:36 AM
Dave N. from Oakland, CA

John McCain and some of his rabid supporters, while in some amount of disagreement on where the line is regarding personal attacks on Barak Obama, after yesterday's town hall in Minnesota apparently do agree on one thing--that being called an "Arab" in and of itself is a racial slur. While McCain and his supporters may disagree as to whether Obama is an "Arab," (just plain stupid) but they do agree on the implications of the term: it's the linguistic equivalent for terrorism and radical Islam. This is an insult to all Arabs, all Muslims, Arab Christians and basically everyone else!

Oct. 11 2008 10:19 PM
Carl from Plano Il

Jon, another attack wont mean retribution at the ballot boxes, it will mean people like Michael Ratner, Marjorie Cohen, Norman Solomon, Nadine Strossen, Christiane Amanpour, Ward Churchill ... (I could go on for pages), will be tied up with rope and dragged behind cars.

The tolerance and threshold for violent retribution that the average American displays is quite remarkable, but it does have its limits.

Every jackass who keeps parroting the line that Islam is not dangerous will reap the whirwind.

Dont say yuo werent warned.

Oct. 11 2008 06:52 PM
Jim Johnson from Pittsburgh

This report would have been more "balanced" if it had begun with the consideration that the initial issue is that Obama CLAIMS to be a Christian, so the claims that he is really a Muslim might on the surface be about his integrity.

This fact does not take away from the additional negative allusions that referring to him as a Muslim in our society carry. Even for those who carry little or no animus, there are still many who believe that we are a Christian nation and a Muslim president would be unacceptable to them.

Furthermore, as other research has shown, many people have unrecognized racial biases and latch on to nonracial "excuses" to justify what are really racially motivated reasons for making choices. As a campaign tactic, accusing Obama of being a Muslim works at many levels; and your own report entitled "Uncorrectable" a few weeks back demonstrates, if you try to convince people of the truth, you only get them more convinced!

Oct. 11 2008 06:08 PM

Carl- Huh? When the "Isamists" hit us again what people will remember is how folks like you supported the misbegotten, time wasting, life wasting, colossal mistake of an invasion in Iraq, and that your great, patriotic, confused and bumbling President Bush never caught Bin Laden (who is a Saudi national, not Iranian, Iraq, or Syria) and totally failed in his mission to get these guys.

You'd better hope they DON'T hit us again, or a Republican won't be elected for another 20 years.

Oct. 11 2008 04:21 PM
Carl from Plano Il

I am not really sure where to begin with this. The ironically named "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting" named as one of its "case studies" the opposition to the Khalil Gibran International Academy in NYC. Naturally FAIR's case study neglected to actually refute any of Pipe's complaints with the New York City high school specializing in "Islamic studies and culture" other than to repeatedly call him a bigot and racist. They left out little details like Debbie Almontaser , the principal of the academy, selling shirts with the theme "Intifada NYC" or that the resident imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Talib Abdul-Rashid sat on the schools board of directors.

When the Islamists hit us again, it aint gonna be with truck bombs or airplanes, its going to be a nuke and its going to leave 100,000's dead. When that happens, Americans will remember those who soft peddled the threat, and the chickens coming home to roost for people like FAIR, the ACLU and their media outlets will look like a Tyson processing plant.

Oct. 11 2008 03:59 PM
Isa Kocher from Istanbul, Turkey

I am a US American 100% service connected disabled veteran. I enlisted in the US Air Force during the Cuba crisis in the early 60s.

I am also a Fulbright Fellow. My disability is now 100%, but after I left the service, my VA helped me obtain my higher education. I have served my country since. Never did I ever imagine the day would come when my being a Muslim would be considered a reason to fear my own fellow citizens, until I saw the hate in Ms. Palin and her stoking hate in her supporters. Knowingly abetting treason.

I want to say Thank You for telling it as it is, anti-muslim anti-Islamic hate speech is racism. It is sinful. It is unAmerican. It is not what I sacrificed my life for when I enlisted.

It is as hateful as it gets to see Mr. Obama called "that one" in a presidential debate. It is as hateful as it gets when Mr. Obama is openly threatened with assassination in front of a candidate for president.

It is treasonous when the candidate of the Republican Party for Vice President of the United States of America encourages and abetts and approves of life threats and racist hate in her public meetings.

It was done to so many in our history from Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Harvey Milk and Matthew Shepherd. These racist sectarians do not speak for America and are a stain on our national honor.

It is barely if at all veiled racist hate.

Thank you for saying so.

God bless America.

Oct. 11 2008 08:15 AM

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