NY Times' Herbert misrepresented Clinton's comments about Obama's religion, asserted they were "one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign"

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert misrepresented comments Sen. Hillary Clinton made on 60 Minutes about Sen. Barack Obama's religion and asserted that Clinton's remarks represented "one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date."

In his March 8 New York Times column, Bob Herbert misrepresented recent remarks Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton made in response to a question about Sen. Barack Obama's religion and asserted that they represented "one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date." Herbert wrote, "[60 Minutes correspondent Steve] Kroft asked Senator Clinton if she believed that Senator Obama is a Muslim. In one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date, Senator Clinton replied: 'No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know.' " But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, during the interview on the March 2 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, Clinton repeatedly made clear that she believes Obama is not a Muslim. Indeed, Clinton's first comment in response to Kroft's initial question on the subject -- "You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?" -- was, "Of course not."

Clinton's full reply was: "Of course not. I mean, that's -- you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that." Kroft then said, "And you said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim." Clinton answered, "Right. Right." Only after Kroft again asked, "You don't believe that he's a Muslim ... or implying, right?" did Clinton respond, "No. No. Why would I? There's no ... No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know."

Additionally, Herbert did not mention that during the exchange, Clinton equated the false rumors about Obama's religion to false rumors about her: "Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors. I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time."

From the March 2 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes:

KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?

CLINTON: Of course not. I mean, that's -- you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.

KROFT: And you said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim.

CLINTON: Right. Right.

KROFT: You don't believe that he's a Muslim --

CLINTON: No. No. Why would I? There's no --

KROFT: -- or implying, right?

CLINTON: No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.

KROFT: It's just scurrilous --

CLINTON: Look, I have been the target of so many ridiculous rumors. I have a great deal of sympathy for anybody who gets, you know, smeared with the kind of rumors that go on all the time.

From Herbert's March 8 New York Times column:

And then there was Mrs. Clinton on "60 Minutes," being interviewed by Steve Kroft. He had shown a clip on the program of a voter in Ohio who said that he'd heard that Senator Obama didn't know the national anthem, "wouldn't use the Holy Bible," and was a Muslim.

Mr. Kroft asked Senator Clinton if she believed that Senator Obama is a Muslim. In one of the sleaziest moments of the campaign to date, Senator Clinton replied: "No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know."

As far as I know.

If she had been asked if she thought President Bush was a Muslim, would her response have included the caveat "as far as I know"? What about Senator McCain? Why, then, with Senator Obama?

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Person
Bob Herbert
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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