Morgan repeated discredited Obama smear, with new claim of Edwards as source

On January 23, KSFO Morning Show hosts Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers repeated the accusation, first made by, that “researchers connected to” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have said that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia,” even though the story has been debunked by CNN, and the Clinton camp has denied any involvement. Nonetheless, Morgan and Rodgers repeated the allegation while adding a new, equally baseless accusation that the story came from the campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC).

Morgan claimed the new charge originated from Washington Whispers, the weblog of U.S. News & World Report, but Media Matters for America* found no such article on the weblog or in the magazine. Morgan concluded, "[Y]ou know it came from another Democrat because the Democrats are beginning to eat their own, as they are always wont to do during the primary process."

Earlier in the segment, Rodgers had reintroduced the claim that Obama “went to a Muslim school, a madrassa they call it ... those things are funded by Saudi Arabia,” adding, “It's basically a school for terrorists.” Morgan noted that there was “controversy” surrounding the story, but that “Insight magazine is standing by its story.” Morgan and Rodgers continued to forward the debunked charge, despite Morgan's apparent reference to a CNN report on January 22, in which correspondent John Vause visited “Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta.” Vause added that he had “been to madrassas in Pakistan, and this school is nothing like that.” (CNN did not report on the source of the smear.)

Rodgers also reiterated comments he made January 19 on the Morning Show, during which he suggested that Obama may be a “death target” because of the revelation that he was born the son of a Muslim. On the January 23 show, Rodgers said: “If your father is a Muslim, you're a Muslim, and as far as Islamic law is concerned, you are a Muslim forevermore. ... And Islamic law says: 'You try to get out, any Muslim has not only the right but the duty to kill you.' ”

Toward the end of the segment, co-host Tom Benner, known as Officer Vic, said that in order “to balance the ticket,” Obama should ask Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to be his running mate. Officer Vic joked that Byrd would provide “balance” because he “has a world of experience. He's been there forever.” Rodgers commented that Byrd is a former “Ku Klux Klansman.” Amidst laughter, Officer Vic concluded: “What a great ticket that would be: Obama and Byrd.”

From the January 23 edition of KSFO's Morning Show:

OFFICER VIC: Is anybody talking about his little Muslim education in Indonesia?

MORGAN: Yes, everybody is talking about it.


OFFICER VIC: 'Cause, you see, I've just turned off entirely from Thursday. I just shut everything down --

RODGERS: Good move. Good move.

OFFICER VIC: -- and I just wondered if that had happened.

MORGAN: In fact, CNN --

RODGERS: He went to a Muslim school, a madrassa they call it, funded -- those things are funded by Saudia Arabia. It's basically a school for terrorists, now this particular one was in Indonesia. He was there for four years, I understand. I don't know what kind of indoctrination process went on there. He was quite young at the time, but he doesn't seem to be, so far, very eager to talk about it and, of course, his supporters say, “Well, it's either John Edwards or the Hildabeast, trying to undercut his campaign right at the beginning.” But there's one thing, one fact, that does not change whatever went on during his days at the madrassa in Indonesia, there is one unalterable fact. It becomes -- I guess the relevant comparison is to Judaism: If you are born to a Jewish mother, you are a Jew.

OFFICER VIC: That's right.

RODGERS: But you can be -- you can convert out. If your father is a Muslim, you're a Muslim, and as far as Islamic law is concerned, you are a Muslim forevermore.

OFFICER VIC: And there's no getting out.

RODGERS: And Islamic law says: “You try to get out, any Muslim has not only the right but the duty to kill you.”


MORGAN: A couple of --

RODGERS: How you get around that, I don't know but, anyway, that's reality -- and his father was a Muslim from Africa.

MORGAN: Couple of observations on this whole story as it's unfolded: Insight magazine, which is owned by The Washington Times, was the first to report that he went to this school, and that it was, in fact, a madrassa. There's some controversy over that. Insight magazine is standing by its story, and they also are standing by the aspect that they reported -- that the leak about this information about this madrassa that he allegedly attended -- well, it's not allegedly; he did attend that school --


MORGAN: -- but whether or not it was a madrassa seems to be in debate, but the information apparently came from Hillary Clinton's opposition research leaked to the media, and that has just set off a firestorm, with a lot of Democratic operatives and so forth. Now, Washington Whispers, which is U.S. Time -- or no, U.S. News & World Report --

RODGERS: U.S. News & World Report. Yeah. Paul Bedard.

MORGAN: And they're saying -- they're saying it actually came from the Edwards camp. It doesn't really matter much to me who's camp it came from, but you know it came from another Democrat because the Democrats are beginning to eat their own, as they are always wont to do during the primary process.

RODGERS: Course -- course if Hillary's people could have leaked this and arranged to make it look like Edwards, you'd be killing two stones with one bird.

MORGAN: Exactly. Now, there would be -- there would be some Machiavellian thinking going on there.

RODGERS: Hard to believe anybody named Clinton would be that underhanded, though.

MORGAN: No, it's just a reach. It's such a stretch for me.

OFFICER VIC: Speaking of bird, I heard one theory put forward. You know, there seems to be a level of no gravitas, as they say -- as bandied about a couple -- several years ago.

RODGERS: You've done a terrible thing. You have introduced the word gravitas --


RODGERS: -- into the presidential campaign.


RODGERS: But, it had to happen sooner or later. Somebody was going to do it.

OFFICER VIC: Sure, with Mr. Obama, you know, he is a junior senator. What has he done? He's light but, he, boy -- he sure looks good. Somebody suggested, to balance the ticket, his vice presidential candidate should be Senator Robert Byrd, who -- who is --

RODGERS: Ah -- [inaudible] Ku Klux Klansman.

OFFICER VIC: Yeah -- has a world of experience. He's been there forever. Has --


OFFICER VIC: What a great ticket that would be: Obama and Byrd.

RODGERS: Yeah, he knows his way around Washington.

MORGAN: Years of wisdom, yes.

RODGERS: That would cap a long and occasionally illustrious career.


RODGERS: At least if you're from West Virginia where they've paved over the state with federal money, it's been an illustrious -- that's great. I love it.

OFFICER VIC: Obama and Byrd.

* Lexis/Nexis database search: “Edwards w/20 madrassa!” in News (All) from previous week.