Barack Obama has gotten a warm welcome to the presidential race: a political smear.
Insight Magazine, a right-wing so-called investigative magazine, ran an article last week claiming that associates of Hillary Rodham Clinton unsheathed some juicy information on Obama: he had been educated at a Madrassa, an apparently radical Muslim school, as a six-year old child in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Fox News was one of the sources-which ranged from tabloids to the more reputable Chicago Sun-Times-to further sensationalize the Insight story, using every piece of "evidence" they could get their paws on to prove just why Obama shouldn’t be leader of the good ‘ol US of A, even claiming that the Christian senator does not attend his church regularly.
On Tuesday, CNN-obviously having paid attention to Journalism 101’s "check your damn facts!" core doctrine-discovered the Insight’s truth to be false.
The network sent one of their reporters to his alma mater in Bakarta, discovering the multicultural, multi-religious (ie. normal) school Obama attended for four years as a child to be as inane as the mild-mannered and respectful Illinois senator himself.
Cheers for CNN; jeers for Insight, Fox and all other news sources who spread mistruths like fire in Chaparral bushes. Political campaigns-and the reporters that follow them–should be about uncovering the truth, not resulting to cheap middle school tactics of making one candidate look better by putting the other one down.
Like all soap operas, the drama and shock value-even if false or misused-will attract many more viewers that a spiel about about Obama’s international public service record, or Hillary’s bills to better childrens’ insurance coverage.
Smears go back to the early presidential campaigns. But now–in the era of rapid blogging and sound bites-they can drift further and fiercer from the truth in a matter of minutes. Suddenly Obama is the next Muslim Manchurian Canidate, indoctrinated as a child and ready to replace the Constitution with Sharia as soon as he takes
The pen is mightier than the sword, but only to the mind that does not question the impact of its words. The mind that lets what everyone else has to say overpower its own say.
On the same lines, we-whether investigative journalists or a priviledged citizen with a vote-should examine Clinton, Obama and Edwards’ own voices, in addition to just what others try to speak for them.
And even if the story were true, we should question just how "radical" this Madrassa (meaning "elementary school" in Arabic) would be.