While discussing Sen. Barack Obama's answers to Tim Russert's questions about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan at the February 26 Democratic presidential debate, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers said: “If I was him, I would have just immediately denounced him.” In fact, Obama did denounce Farrakhan's comments during the debate.
During the February 27 edition of Fox News' America's Election coverage, while discussing Sen. Barack Obama's answers to co-moderator Tim Russert's questions about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the February 26 Democratic presidential debate, host Bill Hemmer asked Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, "[I]f [Obama] was doing a little dance last night, was it effective?" Powers responded, “I don't think so. I think that he ultimately did denounce him. So if you aren't going to -- weren't going to denounce him, you'd want to just -- he would have just stayed with his initial position. If I was him I would have just immediately denounced him.” In fact, Obama immediately and repeatedly denounced Farrakhan's comments during the debate and said in a speech the day before the debate that he is a “consistent denunciator of Louis Farrakhan,” as Media Matters for America documented.
In the debate, Russert began the discussion of Farrakhan by asking Obama, “On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: 'Louis Farrakhan backs Obama for president at Nation of Islam convention in Chicago.' Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?” However, during the America's Election segment, Fox News aired a truncated version of the exchange that did not include Obama's immediate response to Russert's question, in which Obama said, “You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.”
During the Fox News segment, one on-screen graphic read, “New Messiah: Farrakhan Backs Obama,” while a second graphic read: “Farrakhan & Obama: Obama like founder of Islam.” At no point during the discussion, however, did Hemmer, Powers, or Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin make any reference to a “new messiah” or discuss how Obama was “like” the founder of Islam.
From the February 27 edition of Fox News' America's Election:
HEMMER: There was another moment last night --
HEMMER: -- that dealt with Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. And there is a back-and-forth happening right now across the country. Let's play the sound bite quickly and then we'll dissect it. Watch here, from last night, Obama on Farrakhan.
OBAMA [video clip]: Tim, I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word “reject” Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word “denounce,” then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.
HEMMER: Kirsten, if he was doing a little dance last night, was it effective?
POWERS: I don't think so. I think that he ultimately did denounce him. So if you aren't going to -- weren't going to denounce him, you'd want to just -- he would have just stayed with his initial position. If I was him, I would have immediately just denounced him. But, you know --
HEMMER: Get it out of the way and just move on to the next issue.
POWERS: -- I mean, he's an anti-Semite. He's a racist. He's, you know, he's just not somebody you want to be identified with. And I think that Obama did, you know, ultimately did distance himself. I don't think he has problems with Jewish groups. He has humongous Jewish support. I mean, Jewish people tend to vote Democratic; they're supporting him in this election -- you know, a lot of them are supporting him. Certainly Hillary has a lot as well. But, you know, he's not -- he's not Louis Farrakhan. He's pro-Israel. He said that last night, that Israel is a very important ally of the United States, and he understands that.
HEMMER: We gotta go.