Time's Halperin uncritically reported false claim by "[c]ritics" that Obama "encourag[ed] Americans to learn Spanish over immigrants learning English"

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

On his website, The Page, Mark Halperin uncritically reported the false accusation, which he attributed to "[c]ritics" of Sen. Barack Obama, that Obama "encourag[ed] Americans to learn Spanish over immigrants learning English." In fact, Obama said: "I agree that immigrants should learn English. ... But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."

In a July 11 entry on his website, The Page, Time magazine senior political analyst Mark Halperin uncritically reported the false accusation, which he attributed to "[c]ritics" of Sen. Barack Obama, that Obama "encourag[ed] Americans to learn Spanish over immigrants learning English." In fact, as the very article Halperin linked to makes clear, in the remarks in question, Obama said: "I agree that immigrants should learn English. ... But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."

From the July 11 Associated Press article to which Halperin linked:

At issue was a remark the Illinois senator made Monday in Powder Springs, Ga., that drew laughter from the crowd -- but disdain from conservatives and groups advocating English as the official U.S. language. His remark has caused buzz on the Internet and talk radio.

The Americans for Legal Immigration PAC said in a statement, "Barack Obama has stepped on a political land mine by stating Americans should be forced to learn to speak Spanish." But that's not what Obama said.

Obama was answering a question on education when he said he doesn't understand people who say "we need English only."

"I agree that immigrants should learn English," Obama said. "But instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language."

He argued that the country should be emphasizing foreign language study in classrooms.

"You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is 'merci beaucoup!'" Obama said, laughing.

Halperin's July 11 entry in its entirety:

Speaking in Dayton, the Senator stands by his call for American children to learn Spanish, which has prompted disagreement from the right.

"I said something the other day down in Georgia, and the Republicans jumped on this... This is an example of some of the problems we get into when somebody attacks you for saying the truth."

Adds: "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!"

Critics have accused Obama of encouraging Americans to learn Spanish over immigrants learning English.

Network/Outlet
Time Magazine
Person
Mark Halperin
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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