From the September 20 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): I'm curious to explore this strain within the conservative movement and, frankly, within conservative media at times. What do you think it represents when polls show that a significant minority of Republicans, I think 43 percent, according to one poll, say they don't believe that the President is Christian.
STEVE MALZBERG: Fifteen percent in your own CNN poll of Democrats thinks he's a Muslim. Almost a majority, about 48 percent and in previous polls it was over a majority. When you combine think he's a Muslim or don't know, right now it's about 48 percent of your CNN poll. Are they all racist? Are they all fanatics? Are they all hate mongers? The president can be perceived and has been perceived by many as being an Islamist sympathizer by his actions. Most of his Middle East policies favor the Muslim Brotherhood. His really rocky relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu.
STELTER: Favor the Muslim Brotherhood?
MALZBERG: Yeah. He was very upset when the Muslim Brotherhood got kicked out of Egypt. He tried to remedy that. He's gone to bat for them in every way. Look at the Middle East. The Middle East is a disaster. Look at Libya. Who's in charge in Libya? Who's in charge in Syria?
STELTER: Some of those are debatable points. Whether he sympathizes with Islamists is perhaps a debatable point. It's not debatable about his citizenship.
MALZBERG: He says he's a Christian. That's good enough for me. And he's a citizen until somebody shows he's not. That's good enough for me. But when your policies both abroad and at home. Look, he used the prayer breakfast in February to bring up the Crusades right after Muslim terror attacks, as if to say “hey these Muslim terror attacks aren't so bad. Look what the evil Christians did.” He's a very strange devout Christian by his actions and his policies. And, I think that's fair to say.
STELTER: Isn't there enough to criticize about the president without invoking his religion, however?
MALZBERG: Who invoked his religion? Donald Trump didn't. When Hillary Clinton was asked about this in 2008, she said of course he's a Christian “as far as I know.” Now, doesn't that raise a whole bunch of doubt and leave it open-ended? Why isn't the media scrutinizing her and asking her now, because she's criticizing Trump?
STELTER: Well, that, you're saying -- it was seven years ago.
MALZBERG: Well, they should bring it up.
STELTER: Trump was doing it this morning.
STELTER: I'm wondering what it means when we see a significant plurality of the country expressing doubt about the president in this way, and it's been happening for seven years. Do you think that most people believe it, or is it a way saying “no confidence?” Is it a way of voting against the president, or do you think it's actually a believed thing?
MALZBERG: I think there's a lot of people who believe that there's a lot of doubt about this president. Remember Donald Trump wanted to give $5 million to the charity or charities of the president's choice if he simply released his college records, his transcripts and all that went with it?
STELTER: That's about sowing doubt. That's about sowing doubt about facts.
MALZBERG: The president said no. Why wouldn't he release his college transcripts for $5 million to charity? And Trump was the brunt of the jokes back then. Why not the president? See, the media's all messed up. Now, again, I don't think he's a Muslim. And I believe he's a citizen. But there's enough room where people would have their doubts, as evidence by your own poll. And, it's not just Republicans and Trump supporters. It's almost a majority of Americans either think he is, or don't know. I don't know the exact answer why. But here are some reasons that I've just outlined.
STELTER: Doesn't every responsible journalist and every responsible opinion analyst type have a responsibility to say loudly and clearly every time they talk about this the president was born in the U.S. The president is a Christian.
MALZBERG: Not every time.
STELTER: No? Because, otherwise it shows doubt. It creates these kinds of suspicions.