Hey, you. Did you catch the rumor about Barack Obama? Psst. Yeah, you buddy. Guess what I heard about the junior Senator from Illinois? Did you know he might have once been...a Muslim? And dig this, he may - only may, I stress - have once received "training" in Islam while a child in Indonesia? Yeah, it's what they're saying. It's out there.
So went the lead (I paraphrase only slightly) in the national newspaper based in our nation's capital, one of the two or three leading souces for mainstream, deeply researched policy and politics coverage in the United States. The Washington Post and its "reporter" Perry Bacon, Jr. slimed Obama by reporting - and therefore legitimizing - a vicious smear campaign based on rumors of childhood religion. The paper discredited itself, and debased its reputation. Here's a taste:
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
This is horrendous. Regular readers know I'm in the tank for Hillary, and indeed, I don't think attacks on her by Obama and John Edwards have been generally fair or good for their own party. Sometimes they sound like Republican hit jobs. Fine. But while this may, in some warped way, help Clinton, I think it's reprehensible. Sure, it's been a topic on right-wing blogs and the loon Limbaugh. We all know the "oops, I said Osama when I meant Obama" factor. But I agree with Digby:
I guess we should be grateful that the paper allowed Obama to "dispute" and "deny" the "charge" but considering that he isn't a Muslim, it might have been a teensy bit more responsible if they'd simply written that it's a lie and let it go at that. Instead, it blandly suggests this will hurt him more than the Romney since the polls show that even more people won't vote for a Muslim than a Mormon --- failing to note that Romney is actually a Mormon and thus could be expected to suffer from these prejudices more than someone who isn't actually a Muslim!
Then again, I didn't think the anti-Mormon whispers about Romney were fair either.