Obama Blames "Network of Misinformation" for Rumors About His Religion, Birth

President Barack Obama waves after disembarking from Air Force One at the Cape Cod Coast Guard Air Station in Cape Cod, Mass., on Aug. 19, 2010.<br><BRT><a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-250_162-10004384.html" class="linkIcon photo"><b> Photos: The Obamas in Spain</b></a> <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-500146_162-5268948.html" class="linkIcon photo"><b> Photos: Last Year's Vineyard Vacation</b></a> JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama on Sunday attributed the persistent rumors about his faith and about his birthplace to a "network of misinformation" that he says exists in today's new media era.

"I can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead," Mr. Obama told NBC's Brian Williams in an interview in New Orleans. "The facts are the facts. And so, it's not something that I can I think spend all my time worrying about. And I don't think the American people want me to spend all my time worrying about it."

A CBS News poll conducted in April found that 20 percent of Americans believe the president was born outside of the United States. Those numbers rise among self-identified Republicans and Tea Partiers. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month showed that 18 percent of Americans incorrectly said they think Mr. Obama is Muslim. Another 43 percent said they didn't know the president's religion, while just 34 percent correctly said he is a Christian.

"I'm not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there," the president said. "If I spend all my time chasing after that then I wouldn't get much done."

Mr. Obama's faith nevertheless continued to come under scrutiny this weekend, when conservative television personality Glenn Beck, in a Fox News broadcast, challenged the president's "version of Christianity". Beck on Saturday drew nearly 100,000 people to the National Mall for a conservative rally that took a decidedly religious tone.

The president, who was in New Orleans to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, told Brian Williams that he did not watch coverage of the rally, but he said the people at the rally were "exercising their rights under our Constitution exactly as they should."

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.