On Hannity & Colmes, Alan Colmes stated that "there are those who have said" that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim, but "it's not a Fox thing." On his radio show, Sean Hannity also said that "[n]o one has ever suggested that" Obama is a Muslim. In fact, Fox News hosts -- one of whom asked if an affectionate gesture by the Obamas was "a terrorist fist jab" -- have repeatedly promoted false reports about Obama's religion, including the false report that Obama was educated in a madrassa.
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On the September 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, referring to Sen. Barack Obama's appearance on ABC's This Week the previous day, co-host Sean Hannity asserted that "Barack Obama was on with [host] George Stephanopoulos this week, and among the many things he said -- he's accusing Republicans and commentators suggesting that he is a Muslim. And particularly, he singles out Fox News." Later, co-host Alan Colmes noted that during the Stephanopoulos interview, Obama said that Sen. John McCain had not "accuse[d] him of being a Muslim." Hannity interjected: "Neither has anyone on Fox." Colmes then responded in part: "[I]t's not a Fox thing, but there are those who have said that about ... Barack Obama." Earlier, on his nationally syndicated radio show, Hannity asserted that Obama "says ... Fox News and Republican commentators suggest that, in other words, that he is a Muslim. No one has ever suggested that. Now, we're going to go through this record here today, because this is an outright falsehood on his part." In fact, Fox News hosts -- one of whom asked if an affectionate gesture by the Obamas was "a terrorist fist jab" -- have repeatedly promoted false reports about Obama's religion, including the false report that Obama was educated in a madrassa or Islamic school.
Examples of the false stories Fox News anchors have promoted include:
- On January 19, 2007, Fox & Friends co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson advanced a false InsightMag.com report that Obama was educated in a madrassa, as a child in Indonesia. At one point on Fox & Friends First, Doocy asked: "When people find out this stuff, they're going to go, 'Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised as -- spent the first decade of his life raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?' " Kilmeade responded, "Yeah, is that a problem?" He added: "Evidently, when he was a little kid, he went over to Indonesia and went to a madrassa. He -- in his two best-selling books, he doesn't really mention this in detail."
On the January 22, 2007, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts "clarif[ied]" their previous reporting on the madrassa story. During the segment, Doocy said: "Mr. Obama's people called and they said that that is absolutely false. They said the idea that Barack Obama went to a radical Muslim school is completely ridiculous," as Media Matters for America documented. Kilmeade stated that the Obama camp "wanted to make it clear ... he had nothing to do with going to any radical Islamic school, and he was very angry about it."
- Then-Fox News television host John Gibson also reported on the false madrassa story on January 19, 2007 (also advancing the baseless smear that Sen. Hillary Clinton was responsible for the story). Gibson stated: "The New York senator [Hillary Clinton] has reportedly outed Obama's madrassa past. That's right -- Clinton team reported to have pulled out all the stops to reveal something Obama would rather you didn't know -- that he was educated in a Muslim madrassa." In one of the two segments he dedicated to the story that day, Gibson read a statement from Obama's office that said: "The idea that Senator Barack Obama attended some radical Islamic school is completely ludicrous. Senator Obama is a committed Christian and attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago."
During a segment with Republican strategist Terry Holt, Gibson said: "I'm going to put it up on the screen: Barack's madrassa past." He later referred to the story as "the madrassa bomb dropped on Barack Obama." In his "My Word" segment, Gibson said: "Americans have a visceral reaction to the word 'madrassa.' In our world, a madrassa's where zealots train your Muslim kids to hate America, to hate the West, and to be killers. Saying Obama attended a madrassa is tying Obama's name to terrorism, and that is real political hardball in action, especially when Obama himself said in his own book that he attended a predominantly Muslim school as a youngster in Indonesia."
- On the June 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Brit Hume pointed to a statement on Obama's website that Obama "has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian" and stated: "But Obama's half brother is not so sure." Hume continued, falsely stating that "Malik Obama tells The Jerusalem Post that 'if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.' "
During the June 26 edition of Special Report, Hume issued a correction, saying: "[L]ast week, we quoted The Jerusalem Post in the story about Barack Obama's half brother Malik Obama. The Post reported that in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, Malik Obama said his brother would be a good president despite his Muslim background. It now turns out that the Post did not quite understand what Malik Obama was saying in the interview and paraphrased him incorrectly. Malik Obama did not say that his older brother has a Muslim background. The Jerusalem Post has since removed the story from its website, and we regret the error." But while Hume acknowledged an "error," he understated its extent. Suggesting that his only "error" was in repeating a flawed report in the Post, Hume did not acknowledge that he had falsely claimed Malik Obama had spoken with The Jerusalem Post, which the Post did not, in fact, claim.
Additionally, during the February 27 edition of Fox & Friends, while discussing conservative radio host Bill Cunningham's repeated references to Obama's middle name -- Hussein -- at a February 26 rally for Sen. John McCain, co-host Gretchen Carlson asserted: "[T]he silent thing that nobody is really talking about here is the reason that he was saying the middle name so many times ... is because the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim potentially. His father was a Muslim." Carlson then referred to claims that Obama is a Muslim as "rumors," but neither she nor Doocy and Kilmeade pointed out that those rumors are false.
Further, on the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill teased an upcoming discussion about the Obamas' fist bump by saying: "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently." Hill later apologized for her comments.
From the September 8 broadcast of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Let me -- I want to throw you to another tape, here, because Barack Obama was on with George Stephanopoulos this week, and among the many things he said -- he's accusing Republicans and commentators suggesting that he is a Muslim. And particularly, he singles out Fox News, which I think we edited out of this, here, and then himself, he uses the phrase, "my Muslim faith," and that has been talked about a lot. Let's roll this tape.
[begin video clip]
OBAMA: Let's not play games. What I was suggesting --you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith, and you're absolutely right that that is not come --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Christian faith.
OBAMA: Yeah, my Christian faith, and -- well, what I'm saying is he hasn't suggested that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: His connections -- right.
OBAMA: -- that I'm a Muslim.
[end video clip]
HANNITY: All right, Steve, he's saying that there are Republicans and campaign people, they throw the rock and they hide. So, he's really suggesting and accusing the camp. Can you name -- I want -- I have a two-part question: Can you name any Republican on Fox who's said that, number one? And -- or any prominent member of the McCain campaign that says it? Because this is a guy who keeps saying, oh, they're going to make fun of my name. They're going to say I'm a Muslim. They're going to say I don't look like the guys on the currency. Oh, and they're going to say he's black.
He's using these words. Why does he want to create a victimhood -- on the second part of the question?
STEVE ELMENDORF (former Kerry campaign adviser): Well, I don't think he's playing the victim any more than I think Republicans are trying to play the victim with Sarah Palin. At the end of the day, Sean, this raises --
HANNITY: Why is he saying those things about -- why is he saying these attacks are happening when they're not?
ELMENDORF: Sean, at the end of the day, this isn't about the surrogates for either campaign, it isn't about the [unintelligible] on the Republican side --
HANNITY: He's saying it.
COLMES: All right, John McCain said -- John McCain did not go after him or accuse him of being a Muslim, which is what --
HANNITY: Neither has anyone on Fox.
COLMES: -- he said there. And unfortunately, we didn't see the Fox part there, but you're right. Nobody -- it's not a Fox thing, but there are those who have said that about --
ANDREA TANTAROS (Republican strategist): Right, the Clintons.
COLMES: -- about Barack Obama. Now, you --
TANTAROS: The Clintons.
COLMES: -- want to blame the Clintons. Floyd Brown did it. The Willie Horton ad did it. He --
TANTAROS: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
COLMES: There are people on the right who've done it.
TANTAROS: Alan, when Hillary Clinton was asked --
COLMES: And don't you -- don't blame the Clintons --
TANTAROS: Oh, come on.
COLMES: -- for it, Andrea. Come on.
TANTAROS: When Hillary Clinton was asked if Barack Obama was a Muslim, she said, "Oh, not that I know of."
COLMES: Come on, you want to blame --
TANTAROS: I mean, come on.
COLMES: -- the Clintons?
TANTAROS: And racism?
COLMES: You know what? Take responsibility.
TANTAROS: She's the only -- she's the only one --
COLMES: Come on, take responsibility.
TANTAROS: -- that injected racism in this.
COLMES: Steve, they want to --
TANTAROS: McCain hasn't, I haven't, no one has.
From the September 8 edition of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: Now, we're also going to get into, in the course of the program, some of the comments -- now we're up to five attacks, by name, by Senator Barack Obama. I -- you know what? I tell ya, I still have not seen the attack on Fox that Obama made, and, until I do, I can't play it for you, 'cause I want to see it in the full context, so we can have it for you. So, we'll have that later this week.
He also referred to himself -- he was on this weekend. Which show was it? I guess he was on with George Stephanopoulos. Among the things that he said that he had thought about military service as a noble option. He said, I -- there wasn't any active war, so I decided not to pursue it, obviously intimidated by John McCain's background, life, and experience. We'll get into that later.
He says when Fox News and Republican commentators suggest that, in other words, that he is a Muslim. No one has ever suggested that. Now, we're going to go through this record here today, because this is an outright falsehood on his part. He said -- and then he says, he, in his own words, he speaks of his, quote, "Muslim faith." And then George Stephanopoulos had to jump in and correct him. He referred to himself as a Muslim over the weekend, and by the way, I think it was one of his many slip of the tongues.
OBAMA [audio clip]: John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.
HANNITY: All right. Now, there is a whole history to this, but it has not been Fox News commentators and Republican commentators that are saying Barack Obama is a Muslim. We have questioned his faith, his religion -- Black Liberation Theology, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- which is all legitimate considering all the radical, crazy, insane, racist anti-American views of his pastor, as spiritual mentor. But that's very different than what he's claiming here, and then he had to even admit in the same interview that John McCain had not talked about his Muslim faith, but he's basically saying, well, they throw their rock and they hide.