UPDATE AT END OF POST: Hillary Clinton campaign circulated Obama photo in Muslim attire.
Polls released Monday showed a large percentage of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi think President Obama is a Muslim.
In a shocking display of unhinged rhetoric hours later, MSNBC's Ed Schultz blamed it all on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Early in the segment, Schultz referred to the aforementioned Public Policy Polling surveys.
The president was then shown saying, "When we start using religion as a bludgeon in politics, when we start questioning other people's faith, we start using religion to divide instead of bring the country together, then I think we've got a problem."
Schultz responded, “The root of this problem is at the doorstep of the McCain campaign from 2008. You don’t have to look any farther than the recent HBO movie 'Game Change' which premiered over the weekend to see how this whole fire started to rage.”
A clip of the film was shown wherein Julianne Moore as Palin asked Woody Harrelson (Steve Schmidt) if she could start talking about Rev. Jeremiah Wright and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Harrelson told her to speak with McCain (Ed Harris).
What Schultz didn’t show his viewers was that in the film, the campaign team discussed Palin's request and it was decided by McCain himself that Wright would be completely hands off, but Ayers would be free game.
As such, there was absolutely nothing in "Game Change" about the McCain campaign attacking Obama's religious beliefs, which is one of the few truths in the film.
Despite this, after the clip, Schultz said, “Sarah Palin poured gasoline all over this fire. She helped start the misinformation campaign.”
A clip was then shown of the real Palin at a campaign event in October 2008 saying, “This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America. Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.”
There was absolutely nothing about Wright or religion in that clip.
Regardless, when it concluded, Schultz asked his viewers, “So what happened? Sarah Palin made it acceptable for Republican voters to disdain the president for his alleged otherness. She ginned up and fostered the pitting of the American people against Barack Obama. And three and a half years later, it is still a big problem for the United States of America and of course the President of the United States and pretty much a major concern for his reelection campaign.”
So, exactly what in that October 2008 stump speech had anything to do with depicting Obama as a Muslim or questioning his religious beliefs?
But that's what Schultz told his MSNBC audience Monday.
Exit question: who's really ginning up hatred in this country?
Post facto thought provoker: This is what makes HBO's "Game Change" so dangerous. Obama-loving media outlets are going to use it as a resource for information despite it's many factual errors.
Much as many Americans think Palin actually said she could see Russia from her house thanks to Tina Fey, all of the falsehoods in this film are going to become urban legend.
And that's scary.
*****Update: NBer metaphorsbwithu correctly tweeted me that it was the Hillary Clinton campaign in February 2008 that circulated the following infamous photo of Obama in Muslim garb.
Despite this happening six months before Palin was named as McCain's running mate, I'm sure it was still all her fault.