DUSTY RHOADES: Unfair, Unbalanced: Fox News Off Deep End on Obama Story
Apparently some people feel I'm being too hard on the poor folks at Fox News. And it's true, I have written some unkind things about the "we report, you decide" folks.
But recently, I've begun to think that maybe there's an opportunity for me in Fox's style of reportage.
First, a little background.
Recently, the Fox News folks were all a-twitter over reports that Barack Obama, U.S. senator from Illinois and recently declared presidential contender, had, as a child in Indonesia, attended a 'madrassa' -- a radical Muslim school where children are indoctrinated with fundamentalist ideology.
The story was originally broken by a right-wing magazine called "Insight," which happens to be owned by the same organization as the right-wing Washington Times. That organization, in case you didn't know, is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, aka the "Moonies." You know the Moonies. Mass weddings. A funny little Korean man who says he's the Messiah. Those guys.
The report in Insight didn't name a single source -- just shadowy, anonymous figures alleged to be from the campaign of rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Well, it seems that unsubstantiated gossip in a tabloid owned by a bizarre religious cult is all it takes to create a headline story on the "fair and balanced" network. Fox anchor John Gibson breathlessly declaimed that the Hillary Clinton campaign had, and I quote, "outed Obama's madrassa past."
Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy thundered, "Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised -- spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father -- as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?"
There are a few problems with this story, however.
One, Obama wasn't raised by his father, he was raised by his stepfather, a Christian who worked for a U.S. oil company. Obama's birth father wasn't a Muslim, either. He was, in fact, an atheist.
Madrassas, in the sense of the radical Islamic academies sponsored by the Taliban, began in the late 1970s along the Pakistan-Afghan border during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, whereas Obama went to school in Indonesia in 1967. At that time, Indonesia's radical Muslim movement had been brutally suppressed by the Suharto government, so it's highly unlikely that any radical Muslim institute of any kind would have been tolerated.
Any of these facts would have been easily ascertained by anyone at Fox News who'd bothered to take 10 minutes to look them up. These facts also might have been ascertained by any news organization that had taken the radical step of actually sending someone to look at the school. Anyone like, say, CNN.
CNN reporter John Vause, who'd investigated actual madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan, went to Obama's alma mater, the Basuki school in Jakarta. What he found was a public school with Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist students, not at all unusual in Indonesia's multicultural society.
"We don't focus on religion," the deputy headmaster of the school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."
Wow. Actually checking facts. Actually interviewing someone who had a connection to the place. This could be the biggest innovation in journalism since the invention of the pencil.
When confronted with these inconvenient truths, Fox began to backpedal. The story, they now insisted, was not about Obama's supposed radical roots, but about Hillary Clinton trying a smear campaign. This must have come as a surprise to Fox viewers, like the one who called in asking questions like: "Is this guy going to believe that terrorists are our enemies?"
Well, there's also a problem with the "it's all Hillary's fault" explanation: There's not a shred of evidence to back it up, other than the unidentified sources alleged in the aforementioned Moonie magazine. Apparently, though, that's good enough for Fox News. To these people, "fair and balanced" translates into "we'll believe anything, as long as it slanders a Democrat. And the more Democrats you can slander in a single story, the better."
And thus, I saw an opportunity. A shot at my own 15 minutes of fame, if you will.
You see, I have discovered my very own blockbuster expose. I have heard from anonymous sources closely connected with the John Edwards campaign that Hillary Clinton is actually an android created in 1972 in a secret Communist Chinese laboratory and programmed to ascend to the presidency by the use of high tech mind-control rays developed from technology salvaged by the U.S. from a crashed alien spacecraft and sold to the North Vietnamese in 1972 by John Kerry.
There. The seed is planted. Now all I have to do is wait for Fox to pick it up, and I'll be famous as the guy that broke the story.
New York, here I come.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage.
More like this story