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".

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice