CBS' Reynolds left out key info undermining his assertions about Obama's response to Farrakhan, his church, and his patriotism

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

In his report on "who" Sen. Barack Obama "really is" during the February 28 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds left out information undermining or rebutting several of the assertions he made regarding Obama's denouncement of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Obama's church, and Obama's patriotism.

From Reynolds' report:

REYNOLDS: Because he is so new to the national scene, questions persist about Barack Obama's identity, who he really is. Questions his political opponents will be only too happy to answer this fall.

[begin video clip]

OBAMA: Thank you!

REYNOLDS: No flag pin on his lapel? No hand on his heart that one time? Opponents call it unpatriotic. Is he a Muslim? The whispering persists, no matter how often Obama debunks it.

OBAMA: I've been going to the same church for 20 years, praising Jesus.

REYNOLDS: That church is the Trinity United Church of Christ. Self-described as unashamedly black with an emphasis on African culture, the church has been targeted by critics who call it separatist, racist, and anti-Israel.

OBAMA: I consistently have not only befriended the Jewish community, not only have I been strong on Israel, but more importantly, I've been willing to speak out, even when it's not comfortable.

REYNOLDS: Obama has said the church's former pastor and his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright, is "like an old uncle who sometimes will say things I don't agree with." Among Wright's pronouncements: that racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. A church-related publication saluted Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan, a well-known anti-Semite, who in turn has praised Obama's candidacy as recently as last Sunday.

FARRAKHAN: I love that brother.

REYNOLDS: A gesture Obama rejected Tuesday night after some prodding.

OBAMA: There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

In fact, Obama immediately denounced the church publication's recognition of Farrakhan in January and has denounced Farrakhan's controversial comments. On February 24, the day Farrakhan praised Obama, Obama stated during a speech at a Jewish community meeting in Cleveland, "I have been a ... consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan, nobody challenges that." From his speech:

OBAMA: Louis Farrakhan is a resident of Chicago and as a consequence he has been active in a range of community activities, particularly around ex-offenders and dealing with them. I have been a consistent, before I go any further, a consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan, nobody challenges that. And what is true is that, recently -- this is probably, I guess last year -- an award was given to Farrakhan for his work on behalf of ex-offenders completely unrelated to his controversial statements. And I believe that was a mistake and showed a lack of sensitivity to [the] Jewish community and I said so.

During the February 26 debate, moderator Tim Russert began the discussion of Farrakhan by asking Obama, "On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: 'Louis Farrakhan backs Obama for president at Nation of Islam convention in Chicago.' Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?" In response, Obama said:

OBAMA: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

Russert then asked Obama, "Do you reject his support?" Obama answered:

OBAMA: Well, Tim, you know, I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy. [Laughter.] You know, I -- you know, I -- I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments.

Obama concluded the discussion by noting that he considered "denouncing" Farrakhan the same as "rejecting" Farrakhan, and emphasized that he was indeed doing both:

OBAMA: Tim, I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

Concerning the allegations Reynolds repeated about Obama's church being "separatist" and "racist," according to an April 2 article on the website for The Martin Marty Center -- which is described on its website as "an institute for the advanced study of religion at the University of Chicago" -- professor emeritus Martin E. Marty wrote of Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's church: "My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed." In addition, Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman, a minister in the United Church of Christ who attends Trinity, recently made a statement about the church -- video of which is available online -- in which she stated that "[m]inisters all around the United Church of Christ -- European-American, African-American, and other denominations -- bring people from their churches to Trinity because the worship is so powerful, the preaching is so meaningful and prophetic." Hoffman went on to add that Trinity "is a church that reaches out to everybody, locally, around the world, all colors, and it just wants to share the gospel and good news of Jesus."

From the February 28 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

REYNOLDS: Because he is so new to the national scene, questions persist about Barack Obama's identity, who he really is. Questions his political opponents will be only too happy to answer this fall.

[begin video clip]

OBAMA: Thank you!

REYNOLDS: No flag pin on his lapel? No hand on his heart that one time? Opponents call it unpatriotic. Is he a Muslim? The whispering persists, no matter how often Obama debunks it.

OBAMA: I've been going to the same church for 20 years, praising Jesus.

REYNOLDS: That church is the Trinity United Church of Christ. Self-described as unashamedly black with an emphasis on African culture, the church has been targeted by critics who call it separatist, racist, and anti-Israel.

OBAMA: I consistently have not only befriended the Jewish community, not only have I been strong on Israel, but more importantly, I've been willing to speak out, even when it's not comfortable.

REYNOLDS: Obama has said the church's former pastor and his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright, is "like an old uncle who sometimes will say things I don't agree with." Among Wright's pronouncements: that racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. A church-related publication saluted Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan, a well-known anti-Semite, who in turn has praised Obama's candidacy as recently as last Sunday.

FARRAKHAN: I love that brother.

REYNOLDS: A gesture Obama rejected Tuesday night after some prodding.

OBAMA: There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
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CBS
Person
Dean Reynolds
Show/Publication
CBS Evening News
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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