Bob Schieffer on Sunday blamed the internet for the growing number of Americans that think Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Namelessly referring to last week's Pew Research Center poll finding that eighteen percent now believe this, the "Face the Nation" host concluded Sunday's program saying that "in the internet age, ignorance travels as rapidly as great ideas."
He continued, "Now, not only great minds can find one another and compare notes, so too can the nuts and the perverts and those who are simply looking to validate their prejudices."
And continued, "So despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, a new poll tells us a growing number of Americans, most of them on the right, believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. No doubt, due in part to the fact that stories to that effect have gone viral on the internet" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: Finally, today on another subject. The greatest advances in the store of human knowledge have always taken place when great minds found themselves in the same place at the same time, as when the Greeks gathered on the hillsides of Athens, when the political geniuses who founded this country came together.
The great promise of the internet was that for the first time great minds no longer had to be in close proximity. But what we have also learned now is that in the internet age, ignorance travels as rapidly
as great ideas. Now, not only great minds can find one another and compare notes, so too can the nuts and the perverts and those who are simply looking to validate their prejudices.
So despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, a new poll tells us a growing number of Americans, most of them on the right, believe Barack Obama is a Muslim. No doubt, due in part to the fact that stories to that effect have gone viral on the internet.
Disagreeing with our leaders is our right. And in truth, part of the fun of being an American. But to suggest the President is a Muslim is absurd. No matter how fervently some who dislike him may wish it so.
The purpose here, though, is not to argue politics but just to underscore how this illustrates the downside of the internet, the only news delivery system we've ever had that has no editor. We must always remember that that what we read there may not always be true.
Ironically, we must also remember that what we see on television may not always be true either.
After all, when Schieffer said "a new poll tells us a growing number of Americans, most of them on the right, believe Barack Obama is a Muslim," this was a nice little sleight of hand to disguise the truth.
Here's what the Pew poll really said:
The view that Obama is a Muslim is more widespread among his political opponents than among his backers. Roughly a third of conservative Republicans (34%) say Obama is a Muslim, as do 30% of those who disapprove of Obama's job performance. But even among many of his supporters and allies, less than half now say Obama is a Christian. Among Democrats, for instance, 46% say Obama is a Christian, down from 55% in March 2009.
The belief that Obama is a Muslim has increased most sharply among Republicans (up 14 points since 2009), especially conservative Republicans (up 16 points). But the number of independents who say Obama is a Muslim has also increased significantly (up eight points). There has been little change in the number of Democrats who say Obama is a Muslim, but fewer Democrats today say he is a Christian (down nine points since 2009).
As such, what Schieffer said about "most of them on the right" may have been accurate, but it certainly didn't properly relay the poll's findings.
Maybe more importantly, the Pew survey asked respondents how they "learned" about Obama's religious beliefs (page 37). Their answers don't support Schieffer's contention (h/t NB reader Ramon Martinez):
Q.58a And how did you learn about Barack Obama's religion? [OPEN END; CODE UP TO THREE RESPONSES]
Jul 21-Aug 5
60 Media (NET)
36 Media or news (non-specific)
1 Book (non-specific)
1 Obama's book(s)
11 Obama's behaviors or his own words
7 Things heard or read (non-specific)
6 Things heard or read during presidential campaign
4 Views of family or friends
4 Obama's ancestry - family background, name, appearance
1 My own opinion
1 Obama's policies towards Muslim countries or religion in the U.S.
Yep. Only seven percent said they got this information from the internet.
It appears despite his suggestion to the contrary, ignorance travels pretty quickly on television as well.
Post facto thought: This might actually be an improvement in Schieffer's thought process. At least he didn't blame it on Bush!