Breitbart burns Beck, Dobbs, right-wing media with false claim of "Community Organizers Pray[ing] TO" Obama

››› ››› TOM ALLISON & CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and prominent conservative bloggers followed the lead of conservative website Breitbart.tv after the site falsely claimed that an online video showed community organizers from the Gamaliel Foundation "pray[ing]" to President Obama. Breitbart.tv subsequently updated the original post with an editor's note acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and that the crowd may, in fact, be saying "oh God" rather than "Obama"; the Gamaliel Foundation subsequently stated that "at no time have we prayed to President Obama" and that in the video, the organizers "can be heard saying, 'Hear our cry oh God,' 'Deliver us oh God,' etc."

Breitbart.tv claims Gamaliel organizers "Pray TO" Obama, later to walk back claim

Breitbart.tv claims "Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." As Media Matters for America noted, on September 29, Breitbart.tv -- published by Matt Drudge protégé Andrew Breitbart -- embedded a video with the headline "Shock Discovery: Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." The video included captions such as "Deliver Us Obama" and "Hear Our Cry Obama," suggesting that the crowd was "pray[ing]" to Obama.

Post states organizers are members of Gamaliel Foundation, which "helped sponsor Barack Obama's initial work in Chicago." The Breitbart.tv post stated:

The Gamaliel National Clergy Caucus held "a New Orleans style funeral procession as they deliver a casket symbolizing the death of old ways of providing health care and pray for a new day for health care in America."

The Gamaliel Foundation is the community organizing group that helped sponsor Barack Obama's initial work in Chicago.

Editor's note: "Does the crowd say, 'Hear our cry, Obama' and 'Deliver us Obama?' Or are they saying 'Oh God?' " Breitbart.tv later "updated" the post with "the longer version of the original event" -- a video that did not include the captions -- and added an editor's note acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and that the crowd may, in fact, be saying, "Oh God," rather than "Obama":

Editor's note: We've updated this post with the longer version of the original event. As you'll see in the comments and related links there is a debate over what is actually being said. Does the crowd say, "Hear our cry, Obama" and "Deliver us Obama?" Or are they saying "Oh God?" In the longer version the first two repetitions seem to have a distinct "uh" sound at the end that resonates as "Obama." The later repetitions are a little fuzzier. Did some of the religious leaders present become uneasy? Or was there a mix of what was being said? Read some of the blogger analysis below. What do you think?

Beck jumped on Breitbart story, suggested organizers "just mocking God by faking a prayer to Obama"

Breitbart.tv's Baker: "I think you could only characterize it as a prayer to Obama" During the September 29 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Glenn Beck hosted Breitbart staffer Scott Baker, who stated that the video "[j]ust went up seconds ago" on Breitbart.tv and asserted: "I think you could only characterize it as a prayer to Obama. Not for Obama. They're literally chanting and saying, 'Deliver us, Obama.' 'Hear us, Obama.' "

Beck: "Link to the front-page top story on the front page of GlennBeck.com." Beck then asked executive producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere to tell the show's webmaster, Chris Brady, to post the video "on the front page of GlennBeck.com" and to "make sure that it is also included in our email newsletter."

Beck: [T]hey're mocking God" At one point during the segment, Beck suggested that the participants were "just mocking God by faking a prayer to Obama."

Baker highlights Gamaliel ties to Obama. Baker stated:

Gamaliel is -- here's why Gamaliel is important. They were a community organizing group based in Chicago. They now have a national reach. But when Barack Obama got out of Columbia, right -- so this goes back to some of the earliest days for him -- it was the Gamaliel Foundation that essentially brought him to Chicago. It was -- you know, they interviewed him. They, in fact, on their website, say he was an organizer and trainer for us. They used Woods Fund money to sponsor the subsidiary group that Obama worked on.

Baker later added of the organization that a "very important person there was Celia [sic] Muñoz, who is now in the White House. She's the director of intergovernmental affairs." Beck replied: "So, wait a minute. The lady who used to run this group, that was praying to Obama, is now in the White House?"

Video posted on Beck's blog. At 10:39 a.m. ET, video of the participants was posted on Beck's blog with the text: "Is this group saying a prayer to Barack Obama? Glenn is skeptical. Are they saying 'Obama' or 'Oh God?' Are they praising the president or just mocking religion? Turn up the volume and see what you hear. (Unless you're at work, where you would look a little nuts.)"

Gamaliel Foundation responds: "At no time, however, have we prayed to President Barack Obama." Beck's blog post was later updated with the Gamaliel Foundation's response, in which they stated:

As a faith-based organization, it is customary for Gamaliel Foundation affiliates to begin and end every action with prayer. At no time, however, have we prayed to President Barack Obama. In the form of call and response, those who took part in the UnitedHealthcare action can be heard saying, "Hear our cry oh God," "Deliver us oh God," etc.

It is obvious that those who took the time to distort our sincere action for healthcare reform, by posting their own edited version on the Internet, are against what we believe is a fundamental right. It is also obvious that those who are against healthcare reform will stoop to any level to stop what Dr. Martin Luther King called, one of the greatest forms of inequality.

Beck relies heavily on Breitbart in attacks. In recent weeks, Beck has been credited with precipitating the resignation of White House "green jobs" adviser Van Jones, the reassignment of National Endowment for the Arts communications director Yosi Sergant, and the amplification of an anti-ACORN video produced by a conservative filmmaker. In all three instances, Beck has credited the "instrumental" work of conservative columnist and Web publisher Andrew Breitbart, who has a history of smearing progressives and making inflammatory statements.

Lou Dobbs claimed video of people "literally praying" to Obama "exposes, again, very dangerous forces at work in this country"

Dobbs urged his listeners to watch the "stunning new video" of organizers "literally praying to" Obama. From the September 29 broadcast of Dobbs' radio show:

DOBBS: Well, a stunning new video uncovered by the good folks at Breitbart. Go to LouDobbs.com to see our full video, and we urge you to see it, because it exposes, again, very dangerous forces at work in this country, supporting our supreme leader. Are you getting the feeling that Senator Hillary Clinton did not quite know who she was up against?

Now, this video shows members of the community organizing group the Gamaliel Foundation literally praying to our supreme leader over health care back in December of 2008. You've got to hear this. Well, before, let me just set it up a bit.

The president has, throughout his career, made repeated references to his time as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. Well, the Gamaliel Foundation is a community organizing group that helped sponsor Obama's initial work in Chicago. And on LouDobbs.com, we posted for you the full connection between Obama and Gamaliel. He was a director, by the way, of a Gamaliel affiliate. He has supported Gamaliel throughout the years, conducting training at their national leadership training events, at the African-American Leadership Commission, and he's attended their public meetings. Their website says, "We are honored and blessed by the connection between Barack and Gamaliel."

And according to their 2007 tax-return files -- now, get ready for this -- the money from the organization comes from several leftist sources including the Open Society Institute -- of George Soros -- Arka Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation for Freedoms Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Tides Foundation, Peter B. Lewis, and others.

Wow. That's a home run list of left-wing power in this country.

With that, listen to, "Hear our cry, Obama."

[begin audio clip]

UNKNOWN WOMAN: We are here for the healing of the nation.

CROWD: Yes.

UNKNOWN WOMAN: To the prophet Jeremiah, we cry out.

[end audio clip]

DOBBS: Well, that is a remarkable, remarkable -- you've got to see this. Go to LouDobbs.com to see the whole tape. It will, I guarantee you, put chills down your back.

Dobbs also posted video of "group pray[ing] *to* Obama." A September 29 "On Lou's Radar" post to Dobbs' blog -- headlined "Hear Our Prayer, Obama!" - stated, "You must see this video from Dec. 4, 2008, this group prayed *to* Obama to pass health care reform: Deliver us, Obama!" The post included embedded video of the organizers praying.

Dobbs walks in Beckstep. This is only the latest example of Dobbs following Beck's lead in his reporting. Lou Dobbs has recently pushed a number of the same right-wing narratives that have been aggressively championed by Beck, has defended Beck's remarks, and has praised his reporting. In recent weeks, Dobbs -- like Beck -- has called for a "rigorous investigation" of ACORN and said that unless there is a "full-blown FBI investigation," then it will amount to "a sham"; has pushed the conservative attack that the NEA is "politicizing the arts"; has decried as "propaganda" a documentary video; and has defended Beck's comments that Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people."

Prominent conservative blogs also ran with the video

Michelle Malkin posts, then questions video. Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin linked to the Breitbart.tv post and posted the video to her website under the headline "Creepy O-cult video of the day: 'Deliver us Obama!' " She subsequently updated her post, writing, "Ed Morrissey asks if it's just bad acoustics. Are they saying 'Obama' or 'Oh, God?' " The following screenshot was taken of Malkin's website at 7:08 p.m. ET:

HotAir.com's Ed Morrissey posts, then walks back the claim. After posting the video under the headline, "Video: Community organizers pray to their new deity, or something," Morrissey added the following update: "Or do they? After a couple of repetitions, I'm not sure if they're saying 'Obama' or 'Oh God'." He then posted a poll to "see what everyone thinks" about who the Gamaliel Foundation was praying to. The following screenshot was taken from HotAir.com at 7:11 p.m. ET:

Gateway Pundit: "Stunner. Community Organizers Pray to Obama (Video)." From the blog Gateway Pundit at 5 p.m. ET:

Townhall.com's Greg Hengler: "Community Organizers Pray To President-Elect Obama: 'Hear our cry Obama!' 'Deliver us Obama!' " From Townhall.com at 4 p.m. ET.

Atlas Shrugs: "Video: Praying to Obama: 'Deliver Us Obama.' " From the blog Atlas Shrugs at 4 p.m. ET:

RedState: Community Organizer Group Prays to Obama [...] This is unbelievable." From RedState.com at 4 p.m. ET:

From the September 29 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Let me go to Scott Baker now from Breitbart.tv. Scott, welcome to the program.

BAKER: Hey, Glenn. How you doing?

BECK: I saw this video yesterday, and disturbing, disturbing stuff. Is it up on the website yet?

BAKER: Just went up seconds ago. I'm making sure that it's still there, and it is. Yeah, it's the top left story on Breitbart.tv right now.

PAT GRAY (contributing editor): Scott, you lie. This didn't happen. It did not happen.

BURGUIERE: It's not there.

BAKER: Well, now, after the --

BURGUIERE: It's not there.

BAKER: I mean, I know, Pat, that you probably have a prayer closet where you kneel to chant to the president.

GRAY: Well, only in secret, though. I don't, you know --

BAKER: Right. Out in public -- I mean, that's a different thing.

BECK: Scott, tell me about --

BAKER: Isn't this the case that after we've seen all these videos of the kids being used to sing and chant these praises that -- last night, we discovered video from when the president had been elect-- he was the president-elect. This was last December. And the Gamaliel Foundation, a very important organization in Obama's life, they were having an organizing conference in the Washington area. And this video shows the group in a demonstration for health care in an event that you have -- I think you could only characterize it as a prayer to Obama.

BECK: Could you --

BAKER: Not for Obama. They're literally chanting and saying, "Deliver us, Obama."

BECK: Hold on just a second.

BAKER: "Hear us, Obama."

BECK: Hold on just a second. Stu, get Chris Brady on the phone. Link to the front-page top story on the front page of GlennBeck.com to this video and then make sure that it is also included in our email newsletter, which is now, I'm told, 30,000 away from beating the subscription of The New York Times. Unbelievable.

[audio from video begins in background]

BECK: Here is the video now. Now, Scott, they're chanting what when they come in originally?

BAKER: The -- there's a -- as I said, it was a health care demonstration. So this is -- and it was a gathering of religious leaders. All right? So, the Gam-- because the Gamaliel Foundation has its organization in organizing faith-based groups.

[background audio ends]

BAKER: So here are the religious leaders. They're coming to call for health care reform. They're at this leadership assembly. It's in D.C. Early December. And they come in -- and I've been trying identify who the woman is. But as they come in, they're going, "Everybody in; nobody out." This is their "health care for all" slogan.

BECK: OK.

BAKER: I don't know if the woman is a minister, but she's dressed like one.

BECK: OK.

BAKER: She's got kind of a white robe.

BECK: Now, is she the one that is the shorter one and has this, like, green or blue -- I don't even know what you would call them -- but the things that come around the --

BAKER: Vestments, I guess?

BECK: Yeah, the vestments.

BAKER: I was a Baptist. We didn't have -- they didn't wear the robes, but -- so, I'm less familiar with the [unintelligible]

BECK: So, yeah. She's got those big, long things -- I can't remember what -- and here I was raised Catholic. I can't remember what they were. But she has them around her neck, and she's in white robes. And then who is the guy standing next to her? Do you know?

BAKER: Don't know yet. We're just going through some of the material. Literally, this was -- either the video has been up on the site for a year. Didn't have hardly any views. I found maybe one site that had put a link to it a couple of months ago, but it didn't seem to get any play. And then last night, one of the people that watches our B-Cast show put it into one of our forums and said -- a forum that our viewers kind of create -- and said, "Hey, check this out." And we'd already been working on stuff about Gamaliel.

BURGUIERE: What is Gamaliel?

BAKER: Gamaliel is -- here's why Gamaliel is important. They were a community organizing group based in Chicago. They now have a national reach. But when Barack Obama got out of Columbia, right -- so this goes back to some of the earliest days for him -- it was the Gamaliel Foundation that essentially brought him to Chicago. It was -- you know, they interviewed him. They, in fact, on their website, say he was an organizer and trainer for us. They used Woods Fund money to sponsor the subsidiary group that Obama worked on.

BECK: OK. That is the one where he served on the board with Bill Ayers.

BAKER: Right, right. And while a lot of this is -- you know, beyond just the shock of, like, "I cannot believe you people are standing there saying" -- I mean, literally, the prayer is -- and I don't know how audible it'll be on the radio.

BECK: Let's -- you know what? Here it is, here it is. Play a little bit of this here, Pat.

[begin audio clip]

UNKNOWN WOMAN: [unintelligible]

CROWD: Yes.

UNKNOWN WOMAN: To the prophet Jeremiah, we cry out, "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician here? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?"

CROWD: Hear our cry, oh God.

[end audio clip]

BECK: Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. What did they just say here, Scott?

BAKER: "Hear our cry, Obama."

BECK: Play it back, please. Go back. And she's saying, "Why is there no health care?" Or -- do you have the transcript?

BAKER: I've just started to transcribe it, so I'm not done yet. And as soon as I have the full transcript, I'll put it onto the post on Breitbart TV.

BECK: All right.

[begin audio clip]

UNKNOWN WOMAN: "Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?"

CROWD: Hear our cry, oh God.

[end audio clip]

GRAY: "Hear our cry, Obama," I think.

BAKER: Yeah, it's like, "Why has not the health care of our people been the story?" And it looks like to me -- I don't know if, to you -- if you can see this. They have a -- there was a fellow playing a trombone --

BECK: Yes.

BAKER: -- as they marched in, much kind of like a funeral march you might see in New Orleans.

BECK: Yes.

BAKER: And it looks like they were carrying a casket.

BECK: Casket.

BAKER: Right.

BECK: OK. So, hang on just a second. So, what could be said is that this is just a mock funeral. That's all this is. This is just a mock funeral. These people are -- they're not really ministers, and there's not really a casket there. This is just a mock funeral, and they're -- are you ready for this? Like it makes it better. They're just mocking God by faking a prayer to Obama. Making him God, but only in a mocking sort of way.

BAKER: [laughter]

BECK: I mean, you get the golden calf.

GRAY: Oh, that's a lot better. That's --

BECK: That's a lot better, isn't it?

GRAY: That's way better.

BECK: Yeah.

[...]

BAKER: Well, here's the -- and I'm going to look at that immediately when we get off. One of the things that you're going to see is, we'd -- what we'd already been working on and with a piece that we're going to have done maybe tonight that goes back and looks at all -- tries to tie together a lot of the threads of things you've been talking about, about Wade Rathke and ACORN and how he had this idea to pull together these groups and how they kind of created the factory that built the vehicle that Obama rode to the White House. But Gamaliel from -- this group that you're looking at, very important person there was Celia [sic] Muñoz, who is now in the White House. She's the director of intergovernmental affairs. And so I think that it -- it's like you keep wondering --

BECK: OK.

BAKER: -- when you uncover the next stone --

GRAY: Good God.

BAKER: -- we've got to have already seen it all. But each time you do, there's more there.

BECK: So, wait a minute. The lady who used to run this group, that was praying to Obama, is now in the White House?

BAKER: Yes. Yeah. I'm trying to look at what her title was at Gamaliel. It might take me a second. I do know -- and this was another interesting --

BECK: Good God almighty.

BAKER: This was another interesting principle. In -- I found this Investor's Business Daily article about Gamaliel.

BECK: Hang on just a second, hang on. We've only got 10 seconds. I'm going to take a break. Back with Scott Baker from the -- from Breitbart.tv. And new footage out on prayer to Obama.

[...]

BECK: Let me go to Scott Baker, who's from Breitbart.tv. And Scott, are you -- can you be ready tonight and join me on tonight's television show just to talk about who this woman is. What is her name again?

BAKER: Cecilia Muñoz. And I was able to pull some stuff together during the break. The tie here is that she, actually, for a long time, had been the senior VP at the National Council of La Raza. That was a group that came up in part during the [Sonia] Sotomayor hearings because of her work with them.

BECK: In case you don't --

GRAY: They're a lovely group.

BECK: Well, in case you don't speak Spanish, that would be "the race."

GRAY: "The race." Where their slogan is, "For the race" --

BAKER: Right.

GRAY: -- "all, and if you're not of the race, nothing." Something like that. It's loosely translated.

BECK: Oh, well that's good.

GRAY: Yeah.

BAKER: And she -- what the importance here on Gamaliel -- and -- because I was crossing one name with another. She organized a meeting at the White House for Gamaliel. I'm trying to look for the date here. Brought them -- you know, Gamaliel put out on their newsletter that a delegation from Gamaliel, the group that had been praying to Obama in that video, just six months earlier went to the White House this last June and the -- what we're looking at again is the relationships. This is relationships and patterns. I found another -- just an interesting --

BECK: Hold on just a second. What was her title -- before you move on -- what was her title at La Raza?

BAKER: She was senior vice president, I think.

BECK: Senior vice president. Isn't this the group that believes that California should be returned to Mexico? What is the name of that?

GRAY: Azlan. [sic]

BECK: Azlan.

From the September 29 broadcast of United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show:

DOBBS: Well, a stunning new video uncovered by the good folks at Breitbart. Go to LouDobbs.com to see our full video, and we urge you to see it, because it exposes, again, very dangerous forces at work in this country, supporting our supreme leader. Are you getting the feeling that Senator Hillary Clinton did not quite know who she was up against?

Now, this video shows members of the community organizing group the Gamaliel Foundation literally praying to our supreme leader over health care back in December of 2008. You've got to hear this. Well, before, let me just set it up a bit.

The president has, throughout his career, made repeated references to his time as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. Well, the Gamaliel Foundation is a community organizing group that helped sponsor Obama's initial work in Chicago. And on LouDobbs.com, we posted for you the full connection between Obama and Gamaliel. He was a director, by the way, of a Gamaliel affiliate. He has supported Gamaliel throughout the years, conducting training at their national leadership training events, at the African-American Leadership Commission, and he's attended their public meetings. Their website says, "We are honored and blessed by the connection between Barack and Gamaliel."

And according to their 2007 tax-return files -- now, get ready for this -- the money from the organization comes from several leftist sources including the Open Society Institute -- of George Soros -- Arka Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation for Freedoms Fund, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Tides Foundation, Peter B. Lewis, and others.

Wow. That's a home run list of left-wing power in this country.

With that, listen to, "Hear our cry, Obama."

[begin audio clip]

UNKNOWN WOMAN: We are here for the healing of the nation.

CROWD: Yes.

UNKNOWN WOMAN: To the prophet Jeremiah, we cry out.

[end audio clip]

DOBBS: Well, that is a remarkable, remarkable -- you've got to see this. Go to LouDobbs.com to see the whole tape. It will, I guarantee you, put chills down your back.

In another note, the Gamaliel Foundation is a sponsoring organization of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which is trying to secure ever-expanding rights, civil liberties, protections for illegal immigrants and policy reforms that diminish or eliminate restrictions at all on immigration.

And by the way, the Open Society, one of their former top people is on a group that is trying to get me, that's come after me from the left. By the way, that would be a registered left-wing foreign agent, called The Atlantic Philanthropies, involved in that demonstration suggesting that I am somehow racist because I oppose illegal immigration in this country.

Their reasoning is pretty straightforward: I oppose illegal immigration and open borders. Most of the people crossing our borders and most of the illegal immigrants in this country are Hispanic. Therefore, I am not illegal -- anti-illegal immigration, not anti-open borders, I'm anti-Hispanic. And, by the way, they wonder why they can't sell that nonsense to anyone but a very closed loop of left-wing bizarros.

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