Obama fires back

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) fired back yesterday against Insight magazine and Fox News for purveying a discredited report that he attended a radical Islamic religious school during his childhood years in Indonesia.

In a memo to reporters, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs reiterated that CNN has officially debunked claims published last week in Insight, a property of Washington Times owner Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Fox News picked up the magazine’s report, which claimed that the Democratic presidential contender was educated for years in a madrassa, or Muslim school.

Obama attended a secular public school in Indonesia, Gibbs noted, taking Fox News hosts John Gibson and Steve Doocy to task for reiterating the rumor. Aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Obama’s biggest early rival for the nomination, have made clear that Clinton’s camp was not behind the Insight story.

“These malicious, irresponsible charges are precisely the kind of politics the American people have grown tired of, and that Senator Obama is trying to change by focusing on bringing people together to solve our common problems,” Gibbs wrote.

Alongside the memo was a letter signed by 11 leaders of Jewish, Baptist, Catholic, Muslim and other Christian groups condemning the Obama news reports as a mean-spirited attempt to drive a wedge between American religious sects.