Media Blog

Maybe John King Doesn’t Watch CNN

On January 23rd, CNN thoroughly debunked the Obama “Madrassa” story. An excerpt:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) — Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a “madrassa” are not accurate, according to CNN reporting.
Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam.
Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa. (Watch video of Obama’s school Video)
Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by “researchers connected to Senator Clinton.” A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.
He called the story “an obvious right-wing hit job.”
Insight stood by its story in a response posted on its Web site Monday afternoon.
The Insight article was cited several times Friday on Fox News and was also referenced by the New York Post, The Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News and a number of political blogs. (Watch how the Obama “gossip” spread Video)

School not a madrassa

But reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.
He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.
“This is a public school. We don’t focus on religion,” Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. “In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don’t give preferential treatment.”
Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.
“I came here to Barack Obama’s elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa … like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Vause said on the “Situation Room” Monday. “I’ve been to those madrassas in Pakistan … this school is nothing like that.”

So, why is CNN’s John King letting former Senator Bob Kerrey continue calling Obama’s school a madrassa?

KING: Well, you have to know when you’re about to say something like that, that some will twist it, especially in this age of the Internet and blogs. Did you think about that before you talked about it, or is it Bob Kerrey saying this is what I think; I’m going to say it?
KERREY: No, it’s something — by the way, I’ve told Barack Obama when I’ve met with him. It’s something that I’ve spoken about before. So this is not something that just sort of came out in the (inaudible) out there in Iowa. I’ve thought about it a great deal. I’ve watched the blogs, try to say that you can’t trust him because he spent a little bit of time in a secular madrassa.
I feel quite opposite. I think it’s a tremendous strength whether he’s in the United States Senate or whether he’s in the White House. I think it’s a tremendous asset.

And why is King saying the Internet and the blogs are going to twist this? It’s Kerrey who’s twisting the story, not the VRWC. If CNN stands buy its reporting, King should have said, “Senator, that’s just not true. You can rant all you want that the sky is green, but you’re wrong.”
(The original Insight Mag piece credited the Clinton campaign for pushing the story. Is it really that hard to believe anymore?)

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