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Media ignore Obama attack on ‘those who slander the Prophet of Islam’

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Sept. 25, 2012: President Obama addresses the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters.AP

President Obama spoke to the UN Tuesday, but what he had to say depended on the media outlet reporting it. It was about “optics” according to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow; “free speech” said CBS’s Nancy Cordes and Iran, explained NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Not that they’re wrong. It was a 4,000-word speech. Obama covered a lot of ground. But the ground the major media covered conveniently left out was the most provocative line of the entire speech.

The president told the UN that the “future must not belong” to a series of people including “corrupt” leaders and those who “bully women.” But one line from that list stood out. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

That line appeared almost nowhere in the old media where Obama’s supposed defense of free speech dominated. The broadcast networks ignored it and only Jake Tapper noted that Team Obama had also tried to get the video pulled from YouTube for violation of “terms of use.” The New York Times skipped the line, ironically in an article headlined: “Obama Tells U.N. New Democracies Need Free Speech.”

If you wanted a clear indication that few news outlets are even aware conservatives exist, this was it.

Conservative sites descended on the comment like a flock of, well, journalists. Red State, Hot Air, Twitchy, Breitbart and National Review all felt it noteworthy to cover. Even the hypey site Mediaite wrote about it and called it “Obama’s tragic pander.”

Ben Shapiro of Breitbart said Obama’s comments were “precisely the opposite of what the Founders would have intended.” “Those who ‘slander the prophet of Islam’ are people exercising their right to free speech,” he continued. Red State’s Erick Erickson explained that orthodox Christians don’t believe Muhammad is a prophet. “Actual Christians, as opposed to many of the supposed Christians put up by the mainstream media, believe that Christ is the only way to salvation. Believing that is slandering Muhammad.”

Over at Hot Air, Erika Johnsen reminded readers that the Mideast unrest is not about the video. “[I]f we believe that all people have a right to express their views, even ones with which we disagree, why are we still talking about this dumb video?” she asked. The website Twitchy reminded readers that Obama himself had told “The View” to “the best way to marginalize” the video was to “ignore” it. “Yet he mentioned it a half a dozen times during his UN address,” Twitchy said.

While the traditional news media didn’t want to highlight the bad quote, journalists happily embraced Obama’s laugh line for the day. “As president of our country, and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day. And I will defend their right to do so.” That line was featured throughout the traditional media.

Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.