MEDIA

Fox News To Gibbs: Does Birtherism Complicate Obama's Muslim Outreach?

06/21/2010 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

Scroll down to watch video of Gibbs' exchange with Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler.

In between a wave of questions about the president's plans for the upcoming Supreme Court opening and regulatory reform legislation, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked a rather jarring and peculiar question:

"Do the complaints of birthers [those conspiracy theorists who doubt Obama is a natural citizen] complicate the president's dealing with the American Muslim community?" a member of the White House press corps wanted to know.

That member was Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler, who earlier asked whether Obama agrees with the assessment of his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, that "American Muslims have been subjected to excessive surveillance."

Gibbs largely ducked that question, saying merely that the president has confidence in the job Brennan was doing. But the Press Secretary seemed genuinely bewildered with Goler's follow-up -- which may have been the first time birtherism has been brought into a discussion of Obama's diplomatic outreach to the domestic Muslim world.

Goler: "[Obama's] been very much out front in dealing with Muslims abroad. There's some question about whether or not he has been quite so visible at dealing with American Muslims. Do the complaints of birthers and other folks complicate the President's dealing with the American Muslim community?

Gibbs: I have to say, you -- I got to give you credit, Wendell, for getting a lot of crazy people in one question. (Laughter.)

Goler: I hope you're not including me as one of the crazy people. (Laughter.)

Gibbs: No, no, no, I'm -- but you artfully got in a lot of Internet complaints about the President in one --

Goler: Not to give credence to the arguments -- I wonder if it complicates the President's outreach politically.

Gibbs: No. We have -- the President has dealt with the crazy Internet rumors for years. I don't think that's deterred anything that he's done in understanding what the right thing is to do for this country and to broaden our relationship with Muslims throughout the world.

Again, I've said this many times, Wendell. If you're -- if after I asked that the President's birth certificate be put on the Internet hasn't dissuaded you from where he was being born, I'm almost positive that no argument is somehow going to dissuade you from that. I don't -- I got to tell you, I don't -- we don't spend a lot of time here worrying about what to do about people that don't think the President was born here. I don't -- again, I'm the guy who said "put the birth certificate on the Internet." It has apparently, among those people, dissuaded virtually none of them.

WATCH: Gibbs responds

Hard to see how this helps the already tense relationship between Fox and the White House though, for what it's worth, Gibbs enjoys what appear to be quite cordial relations with the network's White House reporters.

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