NBC's Williams Suggests Obama Likely to Be 'Swift-Boating' Victim

During Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC, NBC anchor Brian Williams posed a question to Barack Obama which managed to simultaneously impugn Republicans as executors of disreputable campaign practices and portray Obama as a likely victim of it -- all based on Mitt Romney flubbing Obama's name and memories of the Bush campaign's attacks on John McCain in 2000.

Explaining that his question would be “about religion and misinformation,” Williams, who co-moderated the debate with Tim Russert, raised how Romney “misspoke twice on the same day, confusing your name with that of Osama bin Laden,” as if, apparently, that was some sort of effort to suggest Obama is Muslim. Williams proceeded to highlight how “your party is fond of talking about potential swift boating,” before he got to his charged political point in the form of a question: “Are you fearful of what happened to John McCain, for example in South Carolina a few years back, confusion on the basis of things like names and religion?”

On October 23, Romney made this gaffe, which he immediately corrected: “I think that is a position which is not consistent with the fact. Actually, just look at what Osam, uh, Barack Obama, said just yesterday, Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. 'That is the battlefield. That is the central place. Come join us under one banner.'”

The question, in full, from Williams at about 10:09pm EDT during the October 30 two-hour debate from Drexel University in Philadelphia:

Senator Obama, we're going to transfer into a new area here. A question specifically for you because you're in a rather unique position. It's about religion and misinformation. Governor Romney misspoke twice on the same day, confusing your name with that of Osama bin Laden. Your party is fond of talking about potential swift boating. Are you fearful of what happened to John McCain, for example in South Carolina a few years back, confusion on the basis of things like names and religion?
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center