President Barack Obama dismissed a recent poll showing that a third of Americans don’t know he’s a Christian – and blamed an online campaign of misinformation by his conservative enemies for perpetuating the myth that he’s a Muslim.
Obama, speaking with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Sunday afternoon, was equally dismissive of conservative talk show host Glenn Beck – saying he didn’t watch the Fox host’s Saturday rally in Washington but wasn’t surprised that Beck was able to “stir up” people during uncertain economic times.
Williams, sitting under a tent in a rain-soaked New Orleans, where the First Family commemorated the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, asked Obama why so many people were uncertain about something so fundamental as his faith.
“I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead,” quipped Obama, who took a deep breath to gather his thoughts when asked if the poll reflected his inability to communicate with voters.
“The facts are the facts. We went through some of this during the campaign — there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly,” said a visibly annoyed Obama, referring to “birthers,” who have waged a guerrilla campaign questioning either the existence or the validity of his Hawaiian birth certificate.
“I will always put my money on the American people, and I’m not going to be worried too much about what rumors are floating around there.”
A stunning 18 percent of Americans identify Obama as Muslim, according to a Pew poll released earlier this month. Only a third identified Obama, who speaks passionately about his faith in his autobiography, as Christian.
Obama, who just returned from a long vacation on Martha’s Vineyard said he didn’t watch Glenn Beck’s massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, adding that he was focused on the long-term, not on the “Nightly News.”
“It’s not surprising that someone like a Mr. Beck is able to stir up a certain portion of [the American people]. … That’s been true throughout our history,” he said.
Obama doubled down on his support for a mosque and community center planned for a site two blocks north of ground zero in lower Manhattan – and denied reports that he tried to back away from backing the controversial project. (Continues here)