Murdoch vs the President – Fox accused of faith slur campaign

Obama adviser says US TV network is set on damaging character 'assassination'

An evangelical pastor described as Barack Obama's spiritual adviser has accused Rupert Murdoch's Fox News network of launching a calculated attempt to "religiously assassinate" the president.

Rev Jim Wallis, who has known the president for a decade, said some of the views expressed on the network made no attempt to stick to "truth and civility". He also warned the opinions expressed on the channel were the reason nearly one in five Americans believed President Obama was a Muslim.

"Fox News has been planting a seed of doubt in their mind 24/7," he told The Independent, adding that such moves were part of a "very calculated attempt" by the right-wing media to undermine Obama and the White House.

"The Murdoch/Fox News channel is trying to religiously assassinate Barack Obama," he said. "Let's have a robust debate, but attacking character, patriotism and even faith, should not be acceptable." Though Mr Wallis said he was "speaking for himself" in making the comments, he added President Obama "thinks [Fox] is inaccurate".

He added that the right-wing Tea Party movement, whose support has snowballed since Obama entered the White House, only existed because the president was black.

White House officials have made it clear for a long time that they disagree with Fox's approach, describing it variously as "opinion journalism masquerading as news" and "clearly biased". President Obama himself said recently that he saw the broadcaster as "part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view".

Mr Wallis, who is visiting Britain, said Fox News and one of its highest-profile hosts, Glenn Beck, had helped "create a reality" in which people wrongly believed Obama had been born abroad and was not a Christian. "There's nothing wrong with being a Muslim, but he's a Christian," he said.

"They [Fox] don't seem to care about data and facts. Fox say they are fair and balanced. But that motto has become a joke," Mr Wallis added.

Last night, Mr Wallis' opponents on the right said it was unsurprising that President Obama's staunchest defender in the religious community would accuse the network of bias.

"Jim Wallis is probably the foremost spokesman for the religious and the evangelical left in America," said Mark Tooley, president of the conservative Institute of Religion and Democracy in Washington. He also disagreed that the Tea Party was a racist movement.

"He never seems to identify any particular evidence," he said. "He seems to be saying that because they are offended by his policies and positions, therefore they are offended by his race."

He added that Mr Wallis received funding for his work from the Open Society Institute, owned by billionaire financier and liberal, George Soros.

Mr Beck has also criticised the link with Mr Soros. He said on air: "George Soros, an atheist, dumping a whole bunch of money into a Christian organisation. That almost doesn't make sense. It kind of makes you question the motives, doesn't it? It doesn't take long to see that his attraction to Jim Wallis is because he's a big government progressive. The solution is not with the people and the churches, it is get everybody into the government. He's infiltrating the churches. You see how it works?"

Fox News would not comment on Mr Wallis' remarks last night. However, last year, the network's spokesman, Michael Clemente, accused Obama's team of deciding to "declare war on a news organisation instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back