On MSNBC Live, the news channel displayed on-screen text featuring purported quotes from Iraqis about Sen. Barack Obama under the headline, “What Iraqis Think of Obama.” One purported quote from an Iraqi engineer said, “Obama Is a Muslim & He Will Not Win Because of That.” MSNBC did not note in a caption or otherwise that Obama is not, in fact, a Muslim.
On the July 22 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Contessa Brewer interviewed Newsweek Baghdad correspondent Larry Kaplow, who, she said, “spoke with Iraqis about Senator [Barack] Obama's visit” to Iraq. Brewer asked Kaplow, “What do they know about him, Larry?” During the segment, text at the bottom of the screen displayed purported quotes from Iraqis about Obama under the headline, “What Iraqis Think of Obama.” One purported quote from an Iraqi engineer said, “Obama Is a Muslim & He Will Not Win Because of That”:
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the July 22 edition of MSNBC Live:
BREWER: Barack Obama's in Jordan today, and he said the United States government and its military cannot stay in Iraq forever. Obama's congressional trip to Iraq is making headlines in America. It may not necessarily impress Iraqi citizens. Newsweek's Baghdad correspondent Larry Kaplow spoke with Iraqis about Senator Obama's visit. What do they know about him, Larry?
KAPLOW: Well, he's an enigma to many Iraqis, and they're still trying to figure him out. First of all, they look at him through a lot of skepticism about American interests in general. Many people said they just think he'll be another American politician trying to look out for their interests in the region, look out for oil interests. But you did find some who said, you know, they think he'll be different, that maybe because he is an African American, he'll have some different understanding of the situation for minorities in the world. And they're -- some were trying to be hopeful and hope that he will hand over their country back to them.
BREWER: And how do they feel about this timeline? I mean, the prime minister says he thinks that Barack Obama's 16-month timetable is just about right. Yesterday, a government spokesman said that 2010, the year 2010 would be an ideal date for U.S. troops to leave. What about just the ordinary citizens? Is there still eagerness for them to see the American soldiers leave?
KAPLOW: There is a building eagerness among the Shiite majority of the population for the Americans to start stepping back. Remember, security is much better now than it was in 2006, 2007, and so they feel less of a need to have the Americans protect them from daily dangers and more of an interest in what they see as getting their country back under their own control.
BREWER: And are they particularly invested in the American presidential race?
KAPLOW: No, I wouldn't say so. They're -- first of all, many of them still only have a couple hours of electricity every day, so they don't see a lot of the news. And then they do have so many daily issues they're trying to get through. The economy is still very bad. The wa-- there's a major water problem in Baghdad. So they face those things, but they get enough radio news and newspaper information to know that there is an election going on and wonder how it could affect them.
BREWER: All right. Larry, thank you very much. Appreciate that.