Obama blames ‘network of misinformation’ for rumors of Muslim faith
Sunday, August 29th, 2010 -- 8:32 pm
'I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead,' president quips
President Barack Obama blamed a "network of misinformation" for keeping alive
persistent rumors that he is Muslim, but he shrugged off the
misconception as being out of his control.
"There is a mechanism, a network of misinformation, that in a new media era can get churned out
there constantly," Obama said in an interview with NBC television.
He said the recurring controversy was something he will not allow himself to spend too much time on, however.
"I'm not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating out there," Obama said.
"If I spend all my time chasing after that then I wouldn't get much done," the president said.
Opinion polls earlier this month showed that roughly one in five Americans
wrongly believes Obama is a Muslim -- even though the US leader is a
church-going Christian who repeatedly has spoken out about his faith.
The rumors, which circulate largely on the Internet, gathered steam after
Obama waded into a controversy earlier this month over plans to build a
mosque near the site of the World Trade Center bombing at Ground Zero.
Obama at an Iftar dinner, when Muslims break their fast during the month of
Ramadan, defended the constitutional right of Muslims to build a mosque
near the New York site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks --
remarks which apparently confirmed the suspicions of some who believe he
is an adherent of the Islamic faith.
He repeated the essence of those remarks to NBC on Sunday.
"If you can build a church on that site, if you can build a synagogue on
that site or a Hindu Temple on that site, then we can't treat people of
the Islamic faith differently, who are Americans -- who are American
citizens," the US leader said.
"That is central to who we are. That is a core value of our Constitution. And my job as president is to
make sure in part that we're upholding our Constitution."
His original remarks on the subject drew immediate fire from Republican
foes, including possible contenders for the White House in 2012, who
denounced the project as offending the memory of those killed in the
While the controversy about his religion was given new currency following his remarks, Obama told NBC that rumors questioning
his faith and nationality have swirled about him for as long as he has
been in public life.
"We dealt with this when I was first running for the US Senate," he said.
"We dealt with it when we were first running for the presidency. There were
those who said I couldn't win as US senator because I had a funny
name," Obama said.
"Yet, we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted in the American people's capacity to get
beyond all this nonsense and focus on, 'is this somebody who cares about
me and cares about my family, and has a vision for the future?'
"And so, I will always put my money on the American people," Obama said.
This video is from NBC Nightly News, broadcast Sunday, August 29, 2010.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy