Radio host Bob Grant repeats discredited email smears on Obama

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Radio host Bob Grant falsely attributed several quotes to Sen. Barack Obama and took other Obama quotes out of context. Among the purported "quotes" Grant aired during the program were remarks that actually were penned by conservative writer John Semmens, in a column titled "Semi-News -- A Satirical Look at Recent News," about which FactCheck.org wrote: "The quote was one conservative writer's idea of a joke, which has been picked up and repeated as though it were true in a chain e-mail."

Rehashing several long-debunked email smears against Sen. Barack Obama, New York radio host Bob Grant falsely attributed several quotes to Obama and took other Obama quotes out of context. During the October 23 broadcast of his show, Grant declared: "And I'm sure that, heaven forbid, but if he should become the 44th president, that we will see the real Barack Ob -- as a matter of fact, wait a minute. What do I mean, will? We don't have to wait. Look at the quotes just -- just the tip of the iceberg."

Among the purported "quotes" Grant aired during the program, Grant falsely claimed that Obama said: "As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides. There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem, the national anthem, conveys a warlike message, you know, the bombs bursting in air, and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song, 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.' If that was our anthem, then I might salute it." In fact, as noted by FactCheck.org in April, the words attributed by Grant to Obama were written by conservative writer John Semmens, in a column titled "Semi-News -- A Satirical Look at Recent News." FactCheck.org wrote: "The quote was one conservative writer's idea of a joke, which has been picked up and repeated as though it were true in a chain e-mail."

In his October 27, 2007 column, Semmens wrote:

Obama Explains National Anthem Stance

Hot on the heels of his explanation for why he no longer wears a flag pin, presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama was forced to explain why he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played.

According to the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Sec. 171, During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform are expected to stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.

"As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides," Obama said. "There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.' If that were our anthem, then I might salute it."

Similarly, Grant later asserted:

I'm not objecting to the fact that he's doesn't want to wear a pin in his lapel, it's his reason that floors me. His reason, as I've said, here's -- here are his words: "As I have said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides. There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression."

Now, is he identifying with those people who think it's a symbol of oppression? And who are the people who think it's a symbol of oppression? Oppression -- would it be [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Would it be the leader of Hamas? Would it be the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il? Who would it be? Who would consider the flag to be the symbol of oppression? Who do we oppress? Ladies and gentlemen, the more I think about it, the more, the more concerned I get that this man could be elected.

Grant echoed several other falsehoods that have appeared in emails. Grant stated:

They forgot that he said, "Should the political winds shift in an ugly direction, I will stand with the Muslims." He also said, "I found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's white race." [...] He also said, "I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates don't speak to my own."

This statement echoes claims reportedly made in a debunked chain email that purported to define Obama "[i]n his own words." However, each of these quotes is falsely attributed to Obama or taken out of context. FactCheck.org stated in June: "The e-mail claims to feature words taken from Obama's books, 'The Audacity of Hope' (2006) and 'Dreams from My Father' (1995, republished in 2004). But we found that two of the quotes are false, and others have been manipulated or taken out of context. ... [Y]ou may have noticed that none of the quotes in this e-mail contain page references. This should be a sign to any reader that the author is trying to pull a fast one, betting that you won't take the time to read through all 806 pages of Obama's books to get to the facts." Specifically:

  • Grant claimed that Obama "said 'should the political winds shift in an ugly direction, I will stand with the Muslims.' " In fact, as Media Matters has documented, FactCheck.org stated of the quote, which the email reportedly attributed to The Audacity of Hope: "A second false quote has Obama saying he would 'stand with the Muslims,' words that don't appear in his book. What he actually said is that he would stand with American immigrants from Pakistan or Arab countries should they be faced with something like the forced detention of Japanese-American families in World War II." On Page 261 of The Audacity of Hope, while discussing "my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans," Obama wrote: "[T]hey need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."
  • Grant claimed that Obama "also said, 'I found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's white race.' " According to FactCheck.org, the email claimed that this statement appeared in Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father. However, according to FactCheck.org, "Nothing like this quote appears in [either of] Obama's books," but rather, the words appear to come from a conservative journalist's review of Dreams, not from Obama. From Steve Sailer's March 2007 article in The American Conservative:

He inherited his father's penetrating intelligence; was raised mostly by his loving liberal white grandparents in multiracial, laid-back Hawaii, where America's normal race rules never applied; and received a superb private school education. And yet, at least through age 33 when he wrote Dreams from My Father, he found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother's race.

  • Finally, Grant claimed that Obama said, "I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates don't speak to my own." As FactCheck.org stated, this quote, which the email reportedly attributed to Dreams from My Father was "manipulated to make it sound as though Obama is saying he would 'never emulate' a white man, when he was actually describing a personal struggle to come to terms with his own mixed-race ancestry, and the failings of blacks and whites alike. ... The e-mail cuts out important words, changing the quote's meaning. Gone is the notion that he 'might love' white or brown men. Gone also is that Obama was speaking not of white or brown men generally, but specifically about 'these men,' his white, maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham and his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro. The doctored quote makes it appear as though Obama said he would never emulate any white or brown man, based on their race."

From Dreams from My Father (Page 220):

Yes, I'd seen weakness in other men -- Gramps and his disappointments, Lolo and his compromise. But these men had become object lessons for me, men I might love but never emulate, white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela. And if later I saw that the black men I knew -- Frank or Ray or Will or Rafiq -- fell short of such lofty standards; if I had learned to respect these men for the struggles they went through, recognizing them as my own -- my father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!

PolitiFact.com has also debunked the chain email reportedly containing these purported Obama quotes.

From the October 23 edition of WABC Radio's Bob Grant Show:

GRANT: Let's get right to it. Ladies and gentlemen, first of all, it has occurred to me that the Democrats might be getting away with something that I bet a lot of you didn't think about. You know what that is? That's convincing a lot of people that what anybody said, if it was in the past, it didn't apply, it was irrelevant. But the person who said these things in the past has not disavowed them, he is the same guy. And, of course, I am talking about Barack Obama.

It is my belief that if the McCain campaign could get to enough people to just remind them of the danger of electing Barack Obama, then John McCain would win -- and win, perhaps, in a landslide. Now, on the program yesterday, I reminded you of some of the things that Barack Obama said, and I got a lot of email, people said, "You know what? I forgot about that." And that is the Democrats' greatest weapon, the fact that people have built-in forgetters, for heaven's sake.

They forgot that he said, "Should the political winds shift in an ugly direction, I will stand with the Muslims." He also said, "I found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's white race." He also said "it remained necessary to prove which side you were on to show your loyalty to the black masses to strike out and name names. " He also said, "I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates don't speak to my own." And here's -- here's a real beaut: "In 20 years in attending my church, I cannot recall hearing Reverend Wright say anything anti-American or anti-white."

All right, I mentioned those on the program last night. But how about this, I'll add this: "As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides. There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem, the national anthem, conveys a warlike message, you know, the bombs bursting in air, and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song, 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.' If that was our anthem, then I might salute it."

Now, I know this is so shocking to many of you, because for the last several months, we've been held in thrall by "Mr. Cool."

[...]

GRANT: But ladies and gentlemen, let's analyze the statement about the refusal to wear the flag pin and his not liking the national anthem. Now, if he were to say, you know, I know the flag pin is the symbol of the United States, and I respect my fellow Americans who wear the flag pin, but I choose not to simply because I'm not in the habit of doing something like that. I mean, even if he said that -- but he said the flag is a symbol of oppression, and the world -- the world wouldn't like it if he wore the pin. Now, is he running for president of the United States or president of the world?

[...]

GRANT: But tonight, you're not just getting ideas and opinions, you're getting a citing of the facts. I didn't put these words in Barack Obama's mouth. He said them, and much more -- much more. And so, ladies and gentlemen, let us, let us ask ourselves: Do we want to vote for a president whether he's a Republican, whether he's a Democrat, whatever, who is ashamed of this country? I don't care what he's going to say from now until Election Day. Hey, he's campaigning, and he's a good campaigner, make no mistake. "Mr. Cool" is very good.

[...]

GRANT: And I'm sure that, heaven forbid, but if he should become the 44th president, that we will see the real Barack Ob -- as a matter of fact, wait a minute. What do I mean, will? We don't have to wait. Look at the quotes just -- just the tip of the iceberg, the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine -- wait a minute -- can you imagine electing the leader of America -- of the United States of America -- a man who doesn't like to wear a pin in his lapel because -- now mind you, I'm not objecting to the fact that he's doesn't want to wear a pin in his lapel, it's his reason that floors me. His reason, as I've said, here's -- here are his words: "As I have said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides. There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression."

Now, is he identifying with those people who think it's a symbol of oppression? And who are the people who think it's a symbol of oppression? Oppression -- would it be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Would it be the leader of Hamas? Would it be the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il? Who would it be? Who would consider the flag to be the symbol of oppression? Who do we oppress? Ladies and gentlemen, the more I think about it, the more, the more concerned I get that this man could be elected.

[...]

GRANT: You learn that we may be electing a man who is ashamed, who identifies with the world -- not with the United States, not with the United States. Now, I -- you know, he says he doesn't like the national anthem. He would change it to "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." Well, maybe if he's defeated at the polls and gets tired of voting present or not present in the United States Senate, then maybe he could have a career traveling the world, teaching the world to join him in "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."

Network/Outlet
WABC
Person
Bob Grant
Show/Publication
Bob Grant Show
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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