CNN Debunks “Madrassa” Smear Against Obama

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


We’ve been following the smear campaign against Barack Obama — read background here and here. In short, a right-wing mag funded by the Moonies circulated a story last week asserting that Hillary’s people had dug up and anonymously distributed damaging material on Barack Obama, specifically that he had been educated at a madrassa as a child growing up in Indonesia, that he was raised a Muslim and may still have Muslim sympathies (horror!), and that he was hiding his past from the American public. With all those juicy bits flying around, the hysterics came in short order, fueled by breathless coverage from Fox News.

Well, real journalists have stepped in.

…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.”

Oh, and also:

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.”

So that ends that. The next attack should come up within a few days hours.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate