Conservative radio hosts seize on Obama comment to revive false rumors about his faith

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN, GREG JOHNSON, NATHAN TABAK, GREG LEWIS & VARUN PIPLANI

Conservative talk radio hosts have recently seized on comments Sen. Barack Obama made on ABC's This Week in order to suggest that the comments prove Obama is really a Muslim, not a Christian.

Conservative talk radio hosts have recently seized on comments Sen. Barack Obama made during a September 7 appearance on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos in order to suggest that the comments prove Obama is really a Muslim, not a Christian.

On This Week, Obama discussed, in host George Stephanopoulos' words, Republicans who have "suggested" he had "Muslim connections" and claimed that such suggestions are "promulgated on Fox News, let's say, and Republican commentators, who are closely allied" with Sen. John McCain's campaign. After Stephanopoulos asserted that McCain "said that's wrong" to question Obama's faith, Obama replied: "[Y]ou're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith." Stephanopoulos interjected, "Your Christian faith," to which Obama replied: "My Christian faith. Well, what I'm saying is he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign, upper echelons have not either. What I think is fair to say is that coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith, something which I find deeply offensive. And that has been going on for a pretty long time."

Following Obama's appearance on This Week, numerous conservative talk-radio hosts have selectively highlighted Obama's assertion, which he immediately clarified, that "John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith" to revive rumors that he is a Muslim. Moreover, most hosts did not air Obama's clarification: that "what I'm saying is he hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim." For instance:

  • Chris Baker: On the September 8 broadcast of his Minneapolis radio show, Chris Baker claimed that Obama's comment was "obviously a Freudian slip" and stated, "He confessed. It's over." Baker later referenced comments he made earlier in the show and said, "I don't care" if Obama is Muslim, and, "[I]f he is, then why couldn't he just admit it?" Baker also asserted, "There are some questions about it. I mean, look, you know, he was -- lived in Indonesia, went to one of those madrass-deals, whatever, OK? You got pictures of him in the costume." He also claimed that when Obama is asked about his purported connections to Islam, "He'll say no, but he doesn't explain anything. Well, wait a minute. Didn't you go to that madrassa thing there in Indonesia?" As Media Matters for America has previously documented, allegations that Obama attended a "madrassa" have been disproved by CNN, the Associated Press, and the Chicago Tribune.

Baker also repeatedly played a truncated portion of Obama's This Week appearance in which he omitted Obama's explanatory comment: "Well, what I'm saying is he [McCain] hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim." He aired only the following portion of Obama's exchange with Stephanopoulos:

OBAMA: 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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith.

Further, responding to Obama's assertion that "coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith," Baker claimed that "the only people that ever bring this up is him." In fact, Media Matters has repeatedly noted that media figures and politicians have repeatedly suggested that Obama was not a Christian, but, in fact, a Muslim.

  • Michael Savage: On the September 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage aired a similarly truncated clip and stated of Obama's This Week remarks: "Obama has admitted he's a Muslim." Savage described Obama as a "Muslim stealth candidate" and stated: "I have nothing against moderate Muslims. ... The question is, why is he covering up his Muslim faith? Is he, in fact, a member of the moderate Muslim wing of the Muslim religion? I would hope so." Later, he said, "The question is, though, how did Muslim Obama get this far? How did a Muslim stealth candidate manage to become the anointed candidate of one of the two major parties in the Unites States of America?"

Savage also said that "if you listen to that clip, George Step-on-all-of-us, a hack for Bill Clinton, immediately says to him, 'You mean your Christian faith?' He didn't even realize he had slipped the tongue -- he was telling you what he was thinking." Savage vowed to "play the clip of this Mohammedan slip again and again and again until America realizes that it is too dangerous to vote for Barack Hussein Obama." Later in the show, he also claimed that "we have a unknown factor, who is a Muslim and a Christian, and we do not know where his true loyalties lie. There's no question we don't know where Hussein's loyalties lie."

  • Quinn & Rose: On the September 8 broadcast of The War Room with Quinn & Rose, co-host Jim Quinn repeatedly highlighted Obama's "my Muslim faith" remark and stated: "[W]hy is he trying to cover this up? Reverend Wright was a Muslim. He was part of the Nation of Islam. And this guy here has got long connections back to Louis Farrakhan. This whole notion that we're all slurring him by suggesting that he might be -- why is being Muslim a slur?" Co-host Rose Tennent went on to read from an article published on the conservative news website Newsmax.com that claimed, in Tennent's words, "Well, this guy Amir ... he's an Iranian-born head of Radio Israel's Persian-language service. And he said Iranian leadership likes Obama mainly because he's Muslim. And then he goes on to talk about his name. His first name, Barack, comes from al-Buraq, which is the name of a horse that Muslims believe Muhammad rode on his way to paradise. And his middle name, Hussein, is also a Muslim name. And he was born in a Muslim family." Quinn responded by saying: "How come everybody in the world knows he's a Muslim but us?"
  • KSFO: On the September 8 broadcast of San Francisco radio station KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Program, guest host Brian Sussman aired a portion of Obama's This Week appearance, including Obama's comment that "what I'm saying is that he [McCain] hasn't suggested that I'm a Muslim," and commented: "[T]here's a part of me that says, 'Hmm. Was that really a slip?' When he says 'my Muslim faith,' was that really a slip? I don't know. I'm looking at all the evidence, and I've got news for you. If I were on a jury trying to convict this guy of his Christian faith, I'd have a hard problem with all the evidence out there suggesting that there may be something to a Muslim faith. It's just me." Co-host Tom Benner, referred to on-air as "Officer Vic," also said of Obama's comment: "You can also break it down into that old thing: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. You know?" After the This Week clip, Sussman said, "OK, walks like a duck," to which Benner replied, "Quacks like a duck." Sussman responded: "Poops like a duck."

Also on the broadcast, Sussman said, "So when you have Muammar Qaddafi coming out on state TV saying, "Barack, he's a Muslim. He's an African. Oh, yes, he's an American national, but he was schooled in Indonesia, in an Islamic school. And he's going to bring change to America." I'm telling you, I don't want that kind of guy to be my president. I don't want that guy to even be in my Senate. That guy is suspect." In fact, according to the BBC, far from "endorsing" Obama in the June 11 speech Sussman was discussing, Qaddafi repeatedly attacked Obama for his policies regarding Israel and the Middle East. According to a June 12 BBC article, Qaddafi said of Obama, "The statements of our Kenyan brother of American nationality Obama on Jerusalem ... show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it is a campaign lie. ... We fear that Obama will feel that, because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites."

  • G. Gordon Liddy: On the September 8 broadcast of his syndicated radio show, G. Gordon Liddy aired an audio clip of Middle Eastern-sounding music and said, "[Y]ou're listening to our secret taping of a Obama family meeting, and we're -- just kidding." Liddy then aired a truncated version of Obama's This Week appearance, in which he omitted Obama's full explanation of his remarks:

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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith.

Liddy followed by saying, "Whoops." Later in the broadcast, during an interview with Floyd Brown -- author of Obama Unmasked and creator of the infamous Willie Horton ad, which targeted 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis -- Liddy asserted that Obama's comment was a "slip of the tongue, if you will" and a "Freudian slip." Liddy has previously suggested that Obama is a Muslim on his show, as Media Matters has noted. On July 14, he said that by publishing a controversial cover depicting Obama in Muslim dress, "The New Yorker finally got it right."

From the September 7 broadcast of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned your Christian faith. Yesterday, you took off after the Republicans for suggesting you have Muslim connections. Just a few minutes ago, Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, said they've never done that. "This is a false and cynical attempt to play victim."

OBAMA: You know what? I mean, these guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand. The --

STEPHANOPOULOS: The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections.

OBAMA: No, no, no. But I don't think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let's say, and Republican commentators, who are closely allied to these folks --

STEPHANOPOULOS: But John McCain said that's wrong.

OBAMA: Well, look, the -- listen, you and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said, "That's off-limits." And --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And John McCain said the same thing about questioning your faith.

OBAMA: And what was the first thing that the McCain campaign went out and did? They said, "Look, these liberal blogs that support Obama are out there attacking Governor Palin."

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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith. Well, what I'm saying is he hasn't suggested --

STEPHANOPOULOS: His connections, right.

OBAMA : -- that I'm a Muslim. And I think that his campaign, upper echelons have not either. What I think is fair to say is that coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I'm not who I say I am when it comes to my faith, something which I find deeply offensive. And that has been going on for a pretty long time.

From the September 8 broadcast of 100.3 KTLK-FM's The Chris Baker Show:

BAKER: And you know, this is the part that annoys me about this guy, is he's going to the "well, Republicans are trying to say that I'm a Muslim." No, they're not. The only people that ever bring this up is him.

LANGDON PERRY (host of KTLK's The Langdon Perry Show): And the whack-jobs do.

BAKER: And some paranoids.

PERRY: Yeah. The paranoids and the whack-jobs do.

BAKER: There are some questions about it. I mean, look, you know, he was -- lived in Indonesia, went to one of those madrass-deals, whatever, OK? You got pictures of him in the costume. So, I --

PERRY: Not everybody who goes to Catholic school is Catholic. Not everybody who --

BAKER: I got it. I -- calm down, Langdon.

PERRY: No, I'm not -- it's --

BAKER: Calm down. I'm -- all I'm saying -- answer the damn questions. OK? He doesn't ans-- see, this is the problem. This is how this stuff festers. He never answers the questions. He'll just say, "Well, I don't believe that that is relevant, and no." And then he just -- that's it. He'll say no, but he doesn't explain anything. Well, wait a minute. Didn't you go to that madrassa thing there in Indonesia? "Well, that is the politics of division." Shut up. Answer the question.

[...]

BAKER: Barack Obama over the weekend makes a stumble and calls himself a Muslim. I thought that was really, really funny. I don't know --

PERRY: And that is hilarious, I'm sorry.

BAKER: It is. It's hysterically funny. But then also, at the exact same time, obviously a Freudian slip.

PERRY: See?

BAKER: That's it. Right there. In fact, here he is right now.

[begin audio clip]

OBAMA: 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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith.

[end audio clip]

BAKER: Yeah. George Stephanopoulos was there to save him. He confessed. It's over.

[...]

CALLER: You know what? As a Muslim, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a Muslim.

BAKER: Well, I said the same thing, and I'm not a Muslim.

CALLER: Yeah, you said the same thing, but then you keep playing this tape saying, "I just wish he would admit that he's a Muslim." I would --

BAKER: I -- no, sir. What I said is, which -- earlier in the radio show, is that I don't care, and if he is, then why couldn't he just admit it?

CALLER: Because you know he's not. Why do you keep saying --

BAKER: I don't know what he is, sir. That guy never answers a question.

From the September 8 broadcast of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:

SAVAGE: It's the lead story. Obama has admitted he's a Muslim, and you've got cover-up artists like Lou Dobbs saying that we shouldn't be facing -- we shouldn't be talking about a slip of the tongue. Look, the fact of the matter is, if you investigate Obama's background, he was raised both as a Muslim and as a Christian. Now, that's well and good. He should just come out and admit it. I have nothing against moderate Muslims. They're part of the domestic tapestry and the international tapestry. They're as much opposed to radical Islam as I am.

The question is, why is he covering up his Muslim faith? Is he, in fact, a member of the moderate Muslim wing of the Muslim religion? I would hope so. You may say, "Well, how can you jump to the conclusion that he isn't?" Because I'm worried about the man. Why? Because of his left-wing communist connections and friends.

Now, look, Obama has admitted he's a Muslim. ABC immediately covered for him. In fact, if you listen to that clip, George Step-on-all-of-us, a hack for Bill Clinton, immediately says to him, "You mean your Christian faith?" He didn't even realize he had slipped the tongue -- he was telling you what he was thinking. Play the first part of that again so that people can hear it.

[begin audio 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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian --

[end audio clip]

SAVAGE: Now, you notice that George Step-on-all-of-us, the former Clinton apologist, jumps in and says, "Your Christian faith"? When have you ever heard of a newsman covering for a politician? The answer is forever, which is why the newspapers are going out of business. Which is why ABC, CBS, and NBC are plummeting. The answer is that George Step-on-all-of-us covered up for Barack Hussein Obama, and in doing so, he revealed himself in a way that the liberal media has refused to do since he started running for president.

In this supposed, quote, "slip of the tongue," Obama Hussein referred to his Muslim face -- faith, once and for all exposing the truth about his past, a truth that all the party apparatchiks and all the liberal talking heads in all America have not been able to cover up. Some say it was a Freudian slip; I say it was a different kind of slip. I say it was a truthful slip. Perhaps the most horrible part of this entire incident is the fact that as soon as Obama had said the words "Muslim faith," the Democrat lackey George Stephanopoulos stepped in to help him. The words "Muslim faith" came so naturally to him that Obama didn't bother to correct himself. But Stephanopoulos immediately jumped in and said, "Christian faith." You know why? The left protects its own.

The question is, though, how did Muslim Obama get this far? How did a Muslim stealth candidate manage to become the anointed candidate of one of the two major parties in the Unites States of America? The answer is very clear: It is the collusion of the media with the Democrat [sic] Party. They would rather see someone questionable like Obama in office as long as he is not a Republican. The media covered up this inconvenient truth about Barack Hussein Obama because it did not fit into their story line. And what is that story line? The heroic black presidential candidate who would save America from its evil, racist past. The media used Obama's race as an excuse to support him and refused to look any deeper than that.

Now, even today, when this is the only story worth talking about, the media refuses to give it any attention. CNN talks about the weather. Fox talks about O.J. MSNBC talks about itself. But I, Michael Savage, will talk about this story. I will play the clip of this Mohammedan slip again and again and again until America realizes that it is too dangerous to vote for Barack Hussein Obama. I will play this clip until America realizes that it's a choice between an ex-Navy pilot and a community activist. I will play this clip until America realizes it's a choice between someone who shot rockets at our enemies in battle and someone who shot staples into a telephone pole. This is The Savage Nation.

[...]

SAVAGE: So on one side, we have a capitalist crook. On the other side, we have a unknown factor, who is a Muslim and a Christian, and we do not know where his true loyalties lie. There's no question we don't know where Hussein's loyalties lie. We know this, that with regard to the presidential election, we now have a clear choice between someone named John McCain who shot rockets at our enemies from a flying jet versus someone who shot staples into a telephone pole as a community activist.

From the September 8 broadcast of Clear Channel's The War Room with Quinn & Rose:

QUINN: Well, Barack Obama -- an interesting slip of the tongue. Listen to this.

OBAMA [audio clip]: You and I both know that the minute that Governor Palin was forced to talk about her daughter, I immediately said, "That's off-limits."

QUINN: Yeah, you did, but the rest of your surrogates pounded her.

TENNENT: Your campaign immediately said that this is a woman of a town of nine thou-- a mayor of 9,000 people. You know, the same number that Joe Biden got in the primaries.

QUINN: Yeah, exactly.

TENNENT: Nine thousand.

QUINN: Exactly, exactly. Anyway. But that's not the important part. This is it.

[begin audio clip]

STEPHANOPOULOS: And John McCain said the same thing about questioning your faith.

OBAMA: And what was the first thing that the McCain campaign went out and did? They said, "Look, these liberal blogs that support Obama are out there attacking Governor Palin."

Let's not play games. What I --

[end audio clip]

QUINN: Wait a minute. Whenever Barack Obama says, "Let's not play games," it means, "Let's play games." OK? I just want -- just so you know.

[begin audio clip]

OBAMA: -- was suggesting -- you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith, and you're absolutely right that that has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith. [begin looped audio clip] My Muslim faith, my Muslim faith, my Muslim faith.

[end audio clip]

QUINN: Oh, come on. That can happen to anybody. I mean, I can -- you know, when I saw the priest the other day and he said, "What are you doing back here? Don't you have a lightning rod just case in, you know [imitates sound of an explosion]?" And I said, "Well, you know, I came back because I wanted to pursue my Muslim -- oh! I mean -- "

I mean, I make that mistake all the time, don't you?

TENNENT: And was she helping him or not? Leading him right into that and then leading him right out of it, too. I have a story here that says --

QUINN: You know what's interesting about that?

TENNENT: What?

QUINN: You just had a Freudian slip yourself.

TENNENT: Or "he." You know what?

QUINN: You said "she."

TENNENT: He sounds like a "she," though. But it's "he." I know it's George Stephanopoulos. Yeah, but --

QUINN: Well, it's the metrosexual George.

TENNENT: He sounds feminine, anyway. But anyway, I've got a story about Iranians hoping for Muslim Obama victory. "Iran's leadership expressed great pleasure at the prospect of a Barack Obama victory in November, and that is because they said he is a religious Muslim. Then, Islam, they said, will conquer the heart of the American nation when Obama enters the White House."

QUINN: Well, I played an audiotape here of Muammar Qaddafi. He was speaking in his -- whatever language he speaks over there, but you could tell -- you could hear him say, "Barack Obama, Muslim." I mean, why is this guy trying to run away from this? I mean, I don't care if he's a Muslim, tell you the -- oh, I mean, granted, we're -- you know, Islam is at war with us. But it doesn't mean every Muslim out there is at war with us. And, I mean, why is he trying to cover this up?

Reverend Wright was a Muslim. He was part of the Nation of Islam. And this guy here has got long connections back to Louis Farrakhan. This whole notion that we're all slurring him by suggesting that he might be -- why is being Muslim a slur? You know? I mean, why is it an attack? The only thing we're attacking is his dishonesty.

TENNENT: Well, this guy Amir, he's the -- he's an Iranian-born head of Radio Israel's Persian-language service.

QUINN: Mm-hmm.

TENNENT: And he said Iranian leadership likes Obama mainly because he's Muslim. And then he goes on to talk about his name. His first name, Barack, comes from al-Buraq, which is the name of a horse that Muslims believe Muhammad rode on his way to paradise. And his middle name, Hussein, is also a Muslim name. And he was born in a Muslim family. So, that's how the -- that's the Iranian take on Barack Obama.

QUINN: How come everybody in the world knows he's a Muslim but us?

From the September 8 broadcast of KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Show:

SUSSMAN: So when you have Muammar Qaddafi coming out on state TV saying, "Barack, he's a Muslim. He's an African. Oh, yes, he's an American national, but he was schooled in Indonesia, in an Islamic school. And he's going to bring change to America." I'm telling you, I don't want that kind of guy to be my president. I don't want that guy to even be in my Senate. That guy is suspect. Can anyone understand why there are people like me who scratch my head and say, "How did this happen? What is happening here, and why are fingers pointed at me for pointing out all of these truths that I've just shared with you?"

OFFICER VIC: "Oh, Brian, you're a homophobe. Brian, you're an Islamophobe. Brian, you're a blah-blah-blah-phobe." Yeah.

SUSSMAN: Every -- anything I happen to mention based upon fact, I'm a phobe. Well, in this particular case, call me an Islamophobe. I don't really care. I'm just looking at the lay of the land here and saying this is very, very suspicious. When Muammar Qaddafi is endorsing Barack Obama for president, we've got some serious problems here.

OFFICER VIC: You can also break it down into that old thing: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. You know?

SUSSMAN: Or says this. Sherry, play it again. Here's Barack Obama yesterday, ABC's show with George Stephanopoulos. Listen to this again.

[begin audio 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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith. Well, what I'm saying is he hasn't suggested --

STEPHANOPOULOS: His connections, right.

OBAMA : -- that I'm a Muslim.

[end audio clip]

SUSSMAN: OK, walks like a duck.

OFFICER VIC: Quacks like a duck.

SUSSMAN: Poops like a duck. Come on, this is ridiculous. OK, I -- he made that little gaffe on the radio -- on the television yesterday, and here on the radio today, I just broke down all of the reasons why I'm suspect of the guy. And why there's a part of me that says, "Hmm. Was that really a slip?" When he says "my Muslim faith," was that really a slip? I don't know. I'm looking at all the evidence, and I've got news for you. If I were on a jury trying to convict this guy of his Christian faith, I'd have a hard problem with all the evidence out there suggesting that there may be something to a Muslim faith. It's just me. It's Hot Talk 560 KSFO, 22 past 6.

From the September 8 broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show:

[Middle Eastern-sounding music]

LIDDY: All right, ladies and gentlemen, you're listening to our secret taping of a Obama family meeting, and we're -- just kidding. What happened was, Obama was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos, and here's the tape, Stephanopoulos making the save.

[begin audio 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 has not come --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith.

[end audio clip]

LIDDY: Whoops. All right, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to -- we'll be discussing this more a little later.

[...]

LIDDY: All right, ladies and gentlemen. Floyd Brown is president of the National Campaign Fund. And as a media commentator, he's appeared on many network and cable and television shows, including CBS Evening News, ABC's Primetime, NBC's Today show, Fox News, CNN, NB -- SB -- you know, all of them. And on this show also. And he knows something about the Muslim background of Barack Obama. And I thought that this slip of the tongue, if you will, by -- you know, Freudian slip by Obama on the show This Week with George Stephanopoulos, he might be able to throw his scent a little bit on that. Mr. Brown.

BROWN: Good morning.

LIDDY: Good morning, sir. Now, we know that Barack Obama was, you know, born to a Muslim father, that he spent the first 10 years of his life in Indonesia, where he was registered in the school as a Muslim, where he went to a Catholic school where he was registered as a Muslim. He went to a public school where you, I think, you had to be a Muslim. He studied --

BROWN: Yeah, and it's important to understand that in Indonesia, religious training is a required part of the educational process. And so he would spend up to two hours a day studying the Quran. And that's not unusual in the Islamic world.

So, you know, it's not just that he was registered as a Muslim. The reason that they register them like that with a particular religion is because that puts them on a track in terms of their training.

So, you know, when he this past year, you know, was able to quote the call to prayer in perfect Arabic with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, that's not surprising, because as a young boy, he would have learned all of those basic elements of Islam.

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