They Say He’s A Muslim.

October 21, 2008

Take a gander at this article by Clint Hendler in the Columbia Journalism Review on the issue of how interviewers should handle interviewees who repeat rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

The press seems to have competing responsibilities here. On the one hand, you don’t want to interrupt someone you are interviewing and possibly taint their responses. On the other hand, the press does have a responsibility to educate the public, especially as reporting on rumors (or allowing those rumors to pass unchallenged) usually has the effect of spreading and amplifying them. Personally, I tend to give more weight to the latter, and believe that the press all too frequently errs in its attempts at objectivity. Yet I do acknowledge the difficulty involved in creating a balance between these two competing responsibilities.

Also interesting is the point that when journalists do attempt to point out falsehoods, it usually backfires. Maddening, but not surprising.

I’m beginning to realize that the belief that Sen. Obama is either a Muslim or somehow Muslim-influenced (and that that is a very bad thing) is far more widespread than I originally imagined.

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