Fox News Admits Obama/Muslim Story Was Toxic

| Mon Jan. 29, 2007 12:43 PM EST

The New York Times has a story that gets a comment from all the major players in the "Is Obama Secretly a Muslim??" semi-scandal that we wrote about as long as ten days ago.

The story -- that Obama was educated at a madrassa for a few years as a child, and has hidden the fact that he was raised Muslim -- was originally published by Insight, a website run by the Moonies that is closely associated with the conservative Washington Times. It carried no byline and used anonymous sources. Not surprisingly, the whole thing was thoroughly debunked by CNN only days after it hit the web. The Times reports that even the Wash Times wouldn't touch the story with a ten-foot pole.

Its national editor sent an e-mail message to staff members under the heading "Insight Strikes Again" telling them to "make sure that no mention of any Insight story" appeared in the paper, and another e-mail message to its Congressional correspondent instructing him to clarify to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama that the Washington Times had nothing to do with the article on the Web site.

That's funny, because you know who didn't have the journalistic chops to identify a real stinker of a story? Fox News, that's who. They ran with the story big time, with multiple members of their talking head stable hashing it out over and over. Now, they're sorry.

...in an interview, John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, said its commentators had erred by citing the Clinton-Obama report. "The hosts violated one of our general rules, which is know what you are talking about," Mr. Moody said.

I suppose there is a joke to be made about how if the standard at Fox actually was "know what you are talking about," they'd put nothing on the air at all, but that'd be.... well, I guess I've already gone and said it, haven't I?

Anyway, Insight's editor, Jeffrey Kuhner, won't back down. "Our report on this opposition research activity is completely accurate," he told the Times. In fact, he thinks CNN got duped when it sent a reporter to Indonesia to talk with officials at the school Obama attended. Fighting words: "To simply take the word of a deputy headmaster about what was the religious curriculum of a school 35 years ago does not satisfy our standards for aggressive investigative reporting."

Hmmm. I guess that makes this little gem even funnier.

Mr. Kuhner, in an editor's note on Insight, said the Web site could not afford to "send correspondents to places like Jakarta to check out every fact in a story."