Right-wing media are mocking the Obama campaign's launch of a site called Attack Watch to fight smears against the president. Yet right-wing media have relentlessly pushed many smears about the president -- during and since the 2008 campaign -- including pushing the claim that he was not born in the United States, claiming he was educated in a madrassa, attacking his faith, and claiming the administration committed federal crimes.
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"Snitch Police Squad": Right-Wing Media Mock Obama Campaign's Launch Of Attack Watch Site
Malkin: "Obama Launches Another Snitch Police Squad." In a September 13 post on her blog, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote:
They're baaaaack. It's another legion of Obama snitch police.
The Obama 2012 campaign has rolled out "Attack Watch".
"Get the facts. Fight the smears." And report all dissidents and enemies here.
Also note: AttackWatch is using cookies to track visitors and collect info.
They are watching us. Be sure they know that you are watching them!
Malkin also included the following picture in her post:
The Blaze: Obama Campaign Is "Relying On Some Old Tricks" By Launching Attack Watch. A September 13 post on Glenn Beck's website The Blaze claimed:
As the Obama campaign machine prepares to kick things into full gear for 2012, the president is relying on some old tricks to give him a leg up on his competition, including recycling one particularly controversial program to fight "disinformation."
You may recall that in the heat of the health care reform debate, the Obama administration came under fire for encouraging its supporters to collect and forward any "fishy" information about the president's health care plan directly to the White House:
After widespread outrage of this "internet snitch brigade" exploded across the internet and the media picked up on the story, the White House quickly pulled the plug on the e-tip box. But this kind of creepy "Obama monitoring program" is back -- just in time for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
The Obama-Biden campaign has launched a new website -- www.AttackWatch.com -- to monitor "inaccuracies... falsehoods... gossip..." and "smears" against President Obama. [The Blaze, 9/13/11]
Ingraham: Launch Of Attack Watch Site "Smacks Of Desperation." During the September 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed the launch of the Attack Watch site with Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham. Ingraham said, "[A]ll campaigns do this, to be fair. All campaigns have a rapid response operation," but also said that the launch of the site shows "there's a lot of desperation setting in in the Obama campaign." From the broadcast:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): I have to move on to something else now that I think you'll have a thing or two to say about is the Obama campaign has launched a new web site called AttackWatch.com. Now it's being billed as -- the fact that people who sign up for this on the web, here's what they say. "You should be on the front lines, you will hear about false claims as soon as they come up and we'll count on you to spread the truth to your friends and personal networks and let us know about new smears wherever you hear them." ... What do you make of this?
INGRAHAM: ... Remember, they did something like this in the 2008 campaign, right, they had a rapid response operation.
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Fight the smears.
INGRAHAM: It was -- yeah, it was very high drama, very sophisticated. I think what we can take away from this, guys, is that there is -- there's a lot of desperation setting in in the Obama campaign. If only they spent as much time re-examining their policies and their ideology as they do mounting this full frontal assault against anyone who questions them or their policies, to me, it just smacks of desperation. Look -- all campaigns do this, to be fair. All campaigns have a rapid response operation, but I think when you're looking at 1996 median income levels in the United States today, the smears are actually facts. And, you know, you can say all you want but the facts at some point can't be denied and, I think, to dovetail back to the beginning of this segment, I think the New York Ninth District is not really concerned about the smears. They're concerned about the facts and how things are going domestically and foreign policy-wise in the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/14/11]
Right-Wing Media Have Relentlessly Pushed Smears Of Obama, Before, During, And Since 2008 Campaign
"False, Fake Birth Certificate": Birther Conspiracy Theory
During 2008 Campaign, Fox News Hosted Birther Jerome Corsi To Push Claim Campaign Posted "False, Fake Birth Certificate." On the August 15, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, WorldNetDaily writer Jerome Corsi claimed that the campaign "has a false, fake birth certificate posted on their website. ... The original birth certificate of Obama has never been released, and the campaign refuses to release it." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/15/08, via Media Matters]
For information on the state of Hawaii's rejection of Corsi's birther claims, SEE HERE.
2009: Fox Continued To Push Birther Theories. In May 2009, the Fox Nation posted the headline, "Should Obama Release Birth Certificate? Or Is This Old News?" [Fox Nation, 5/28/09, via Media Matters]
- In Fact, At The Time, The Obama Campaign Had Released A Copy Of Obama's Birth Certificate Almost One Year Prior. The Obama campaign released a copy of Obama's birth certificate during the 2008 campaign. [Media Matters, 5/28/09]
March 2011: Doocy Claimed Birth Certificate Produced By Obama Campaign "Is Not The Exact Birth Certificate"; Carlson Claimed Obama Deliberately Hiding Birth Certificate. On the March 24 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed Donald Trump's comments on The View, in which Trump said that he thinks Obama "should show his birth certificate." After video of Trump's remarks was played, the co-hosts hyped viewer comments agreeing with Trump. Co-host Gretchen Carlson said, "Have you ever thought about the fact, though, that maybe they're not showing [Obama's birth certificate] because it keeps sort of stirring the pot about these other people discussing it, and it doesn't make them look so good?" Co-host Steve Doocy then said, "We should also point out that the campaign did produce, before the election, something called a certificate of live birth, which is not the exact birth certificate, but something that the state says indicates that he was born there, in Hawaii." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/24/11, via Media Matters]
March 2011: Trump Goes Birther On Fox: "I'm Starting To Wonder ... Whether Or Not [Obama] Was Born In This Country." On the March 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Trump stated, "I'm starting to wonder ... whether or not [Obama] was born in this country." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/28/11, via Media Matters]
April 2011: Fox News Goes Full Birther. Following Trump's lead, Fox News figures repeatedly embraced or hyped the birther conspiracy theory, including Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin. [Media Matters, 4/20/11]
April 2011: Bolling Continued To Push Birtherism Even After Release Of Long-Form Birth Certificate. Following the White House's release of the president's long-form birth certificate, Fox Business host Eric Bolling told radio host Mike Gallagher, on the April 27 edition of Gallagher's show, he has "a lot of questions ... I certainly don't think it's been put to rest." On the same day, Bolling devoted a segment of his Fox Business show to conspiracy-mongering about the long-form certificate, claiming, among other things, that its borders looked "photoshopped." [Salem Radio Network, The Mike Gallagher Show, 4/27/11; Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11, via Media Matters]
"Educated In A Madrassa": Madrassa Smear
2007: InsightMag.Com Claimed Obama "Spent At Least Four Years In A So-Called Madrassa." On January 17, 2007, InsightMag.com published an article claiming that "researchers connected to" then-Sen. Hillary Clinton disclosed that Obama "spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia." The story claimed that "sources close to [a] background check," which was supposedly "conducted by researchers connected to Sen. Clinton," said that "[t]he idea is to show Obama as deceptive." These "sources" also speculated that the "the specific Madrassa Mr. Obama attended" might have taught "a Wahhabi doctrine that denies the rights of non-Muslims." The InsightMag.com story also noted that in each of his two books, Obama "mentions but does not expand on his Muslim background." The article cited only anonymous sources. By January 19, 2007, the story had been picked up by conservative media figures and given prominent play on CNN Headline News and Fox News. [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
Doocy Picked Up InSight Attack: "Why Didn't Anybody Ever Mention That [Obama] Was Raised ... As A Muslim And Was Educated In A Madrassa?" On January 19, 2007, the co-hosts of Fox & Friends First, a now-discontinued extension of Fox & Friends, devoted a segment to pushing InsightMag's madrassa smear. The co-hosts presented the claim as fact, with Doocy asking, "Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised ... as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?" From a transcript of the show:
DOOCY: Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised -- spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father -- as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?
DOOCY: We should also point out that Barack Obama's father is the one who gave him the middle name of Hussein. And the thing about the madrassa, and you know, let's just be honest about this, in the last number of years, madrassas have been, we've learned a lot about them, financed by Saudis, they teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us. The big question is was that on the curriculum back then? Probably not, but it was a madrassa and the big question is whether or not any of these revelations about the fact that he was a Muslim -- right now I understand he does go to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, although not a regular parishioner -- but raised as a Muslim, went to a madrassa.
DOOCY: Is it ancient history or do you think madrassa matters. [phone ringing] Josh joins us from Colorado. Good morning to you Josh.
CALLER: What's up?
DOOCY: What do you think?
CALLER: I think that ultimately this will probably be one of the main reasons is he not elected.
DOOCY: Just the fact that his father was a Muslim, he was raised as a Muslim for awhile, and went to a madrassa school in Jakarta?
CALLER: Right. I mean, you think that would possibly give him better insight on the enemy, maybe he doesn't consider terrorists the enemy.
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Well, we'll see about that. Yeah, Josh says that.
CALLER: Hi, good morning. Yes, I think it does matter. The fact that he omitted it must mean that he feels that somebody is going to have an opinion. And President Bush certainly comes under scrutiny, so why shouldn't he?
KILMEADE: Well, he didn't admit it. I mean that's the issue.
CARLSON: Well she said he didn't.
KILMEADE: Says he didn't come out, and I was over in Indonesia for five years, or roughly five years, went to a madrassa and there is some reports that Wahhabism was the curriculum there, which is a problem because they start with "We hate America" and work their way back from there.
DOOCY: Well, the way it was framed in one of his biographies, he said, "I was sent first," this is in Indonesia, "to a catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school." He doesn't say, "I went to a madrassa, where they taught Wahhabism." He simply says, "I went to a predominantly Muslim school."
CARLSON: Alright, Jim from Alabama, what do you think?
CARLSON: What do you think?
CALLER: I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to. [Laughter]
CARLSON: We want to be clear, too, that this isn't all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up. [ThinkProgress, 1/19/07]
Multiple Mainstream Media Outlets Debunked Madrassa Theory. Between January 19 and January 29, 2007, journalists and contributors for the The Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The New York Times, and even the conservative Washington Times debunked the claim that Obama was "educated in a madrassa." On January 19, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn pointed out that "the type of madrassas linked to the Taliban did not emerge until the Afghan war against the Soviets," which began 12 years after Obama lived in Indonesia, where he spent two years at a Catholic school and two at a Muslim school. A January 20, 2007, New York Post article quoted Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson saying, "We have no connection to this story," and further reported that Obama strategist David Axelrod said he did not "believe ... for a second" the allegation that Clinton's camp was behind the story. [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
Fox & Friends Issued A "Clarification" Of Their Original Madrassa Story. On January 22, 2007, Doocy noted that "Mr. Obama's people called and they said that [the madrassa story] is absolutely false." Kilmeade added that the Clinton camp had said, "We did not have anything to do with that story." [Media Matters, 1/30/07]
2009: Coulter Brought Madrassa Lie Back To Fox News. In December 2009, conservative pundit Ann Coulter appeared on both The O'Reilly Factor and Glenn Beck and claimed that Obama "attended madrassas" and "studie[d] with madrassas." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/28/09; Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/30/09; via Media Matters]
He "Is A Muslim, Potentially": Conspiracy Theory That Obama Is A Muslim
2008: Fox & Friends Hosts Pushed Use Of Obama's Middle Name To Ask If He Is "A Muslim, Potentially." During the February 27, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed right-wing radio host Bill Cunningham's use of Obama's middle name when he was introducing Obama's then-presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain, during a campaign rally. They defended Cunningham's actions, stating, "That's [Obama's] name." The hosts did not mention that Cunningham had previously referred to Obama as "Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama." From the broadcast:
CARLSON: Some people in the audience were like, "Ooh, I can't believe he's doing that." But again, the silent thing that nobody is really talking about here is the reason that he was saying the middle name so many times.
KILMEADE: Which is?
CARLSON: Hussein. Is because the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim, potentially? His father was a Muslim. And so the reason that John McCain would come out and apologize is because he does not want to be accused -- his camp does not want to be accused -- of fueling the rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
DOOCY: Right, and in fact, there's been some polling done, apparently, by the Republicans to figure out if Barack Hussein Obama -- now I'm using Bill Cunningham's expression -- were the candidate, or Hillary Rodham Clinton were the candidate, what it would be like to run against somebody like Barack or Hillary and all the dynamics. Now, here's the other thing at play, though. It's his name.
DOOCY: Why not use his name? It's his name.
CARLSON: I know. Exactly.
KILMEADE: It's not like you are knocking him with a nickname -- it's actually his name. [Media Matters, 2/27/08]
2010: Kilmeade: "If [Obama] Was Worried" About People Thinking He's Muslim, "Wouldn't He Have Kept His Name As Barry And Not Barack?" During the August 30, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade asked, "If he was worried about [being associated with Islam], wouldn't he have kept his name as Barry and not Barack?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/30/10]
2010: Fund: Obama "Bears Some Of The Responsibility For These Misconceptions." On the September 3, 2010, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund claimed that Obama "allowed his image to slip away from him," in part, by "not going to church, for example, regularly, by not joining a church." Fund concluded, "He bears some of the responsibility for these misconceptions." [Media Matters, 9/3/10]
2010: Fox & Friends Guest Pamela Geller Attempted To Tie Obama To Radical Islam. During the June 28, 2010, broadcast of Fox & Friends, conservative blogger Pamela Geller appeared as a guest. During her segment, she attempted to tie Obama to radical Islam. From the broadcast:
GELLER: There's a complicity by the media, there's a silence. People don't want to talk about it. And of course now, as outlined in my book, the Obama administration, which is so pro-Islam, there's certainly a reluctance to address the issue. When he was in Cairo, he equated the violation of women's rights in America to those in the Muslim world, and they're quite different. Women are very subjugated in the Muslim world.
ERIC BOLLING (guest host): Sharia law is -- you know, when Europe allowed Muslims in and to observe Sharia law, they opened up the can of worms there. Where are we in relationship to that? Have we allowed it? Have we embraced it? Are they actually starting to live by Sharia law within our own U.S. law?
GELLER: Well, you know, the Obama administration is very pro-Islam. When he was speaking in Cairo, he said he was going to make it safe in America for women to wear the hijab. It's not -- it's safe for America to wear the hijab -- for women to wear the hijab. But what about women like Rifqa Bary who don't want to wear the hijab?
A week after he nationalized some banks the US Treasury was giving seminars in Sharia finance. He said he wanted to open up Islamic charity for more, that we're holding back - now, we're not holding back Islamic charity. But we do know that, holding that terror trial, they use Islamic charities to fund jihad and terror. [Media Matters, 7/28/10]
"Hard To Call That Christianity": Attacks On Obama's Christian Faith
2007: Tucker Carlson On Obama's Church: "[I]t's Hard To Call That Christianity." On the February 7, 2007, edition of MSNBC's show Tucker, which has since been cancelled, then-host Tucker Carlson attacked Obama for being a member of a church that Carlson claimed "sounds separatist to me" and "contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity." [MSNBC, Tucker, 2/7/07]
2010: Hannity Attacked Obama's "Personal Relationship With God." During the February 3, 2010, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Hannity led a panel discussion of "devotional" emails Obama had said he received on his BlackBerry. Hannity said, "Well, it looks like we might have a replacement for [Rev.] Jeremiah Wright." His guest Richard Miniter speculated that the devotionals' occasional mention of "other faiths" might mean "he [is] talking about Islam." Hannity responded, "It's kind of weird. Every president has had a personal relationship with God, and for him to say, 'Well, some days it's Buddha, some days it's Jesus.' It's kind of strange." [Fox News, Hannity, 2/3/10, via Media Matters]
2010: Fox Nation: "1 Year Later, Obama Still Hasn't Found a Church." A February 1, 2010, Fox Nation headline stated, "1 Year Later, Obama Still Hasn't Found a Church." The headline linked to an ABCNews.com article that reported that "[t]he first family, once regular churchgoers, have publicly attended services in Washington just three times in the past year." [Fox Nation, 2/1/10, via Media Matters]
2010: Breitbart's Big Journalism Attacked Obama For Not Finding Church Quickly Enough, Invoked Wright. A January 31, 2010, post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website linked to the ABC article and stated: "More than a year after he arrived in Washington, President Obama, amazingly, has not yet been able to find a church. You really can't make this stuff up." The post further stated, "What's so hard about finding a church?" adding, "maybe the reason he hasn't found a church is that he's having a hard time finding a speaker as imbued with the true spirit of Christianity as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright." [Big Journalism, 1/31/10, via Media Matters]
2010: Beck: "But America Is Expected To Be Solidly Convinced He's A Christian?" On the August 24, 2010, edition of the Fox News show Glenn Beck, which has since been canceled, Beck attacked Obama's religious influences and concluded, "But America is expected to be solidly convinced he's a Christian?" [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/24/10]
"I Believe This Is A Bribe": Falsely Accusing Administration Of Committing Crimes
2010: Right-Wing Media Attacked White House Over Rumor Of Romanoff Job Offer. In June 2010, right-wing media claimed the White House offered Democratic candidate Andrew Romanoff a job in order to get him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race in Colorado and claimed the White House committed a crime by having conversations with him. [Media Matters, 6/3/10]
- In Fact, No Job Offer Was Made, And Experts Repudiated Claim Romanoff Discussions Were Illegal. In fact, while both Romanoff and the White House acknowledged that they had conversations about a job for which Romanoff had previously applied, both denied that any job offer was made; and legal experts strongly rejected the notion that the White House broke any laws in its conversations with Romanoff. [Media Matters, 6/3/10]
2010: Right-Wing Media Claimed White House Broke The Law With Sestak Offer. In May and June 2010, right-wing media figures claimed that the White House broke federal law by offering a position to Joe Sestak in exchange for his agreeing not to enter the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania. [Media Matters, 6/3/10]
- In Fact, Legal Experts Denied A Crime Was Committed. In fact, legal experts examined the Sestak case and concluded that no law was broken. [Media Matters, 6/3/10]
Obama's Not The Only One: Rick Perry's Campaign Also Has Online Rapid Response Operation
Perry Campaign Runs Twitter Account Called "PerryTruthTeam." The Perry campaign has a Twitter account called "PerryTruthTeam," whose tweets include fact-checks on Perry and his opponents' claims about him. For example: