Jack Beatty, Mike Allen, Chuck Todd: "Dog Whistles," Obama-as-Muslim

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On our most recent Week in the News roundtable, the discussion turned to a recent Pew survey revealing that nearly 20 percent of Americans believe (falsely) that Pres. Obama is a Muslim.

On Point news analyst Jack Beatty dug into a specific result from the poll: that a strong majority of those who believed the president was Muslim relied on "the media" as the source of their belief, as opposed to the Internet or word-of-mouth.

Because it seemed unlikely that most figures in the media would assert something so provably false, Jack suggested that perhaps some right-wing outlets or figures were subtly signaling that there was something to the "Obama is a Muslim" charge -- without outright saying so.  "Like a dog-whistle," Jack hypothesized on Friday.

On "Meet the Press" this Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) weighed in on the controversy, saying, "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Both Mike Allen of Politico and Chuck Todd of NBC jumped on this, suggesting it might be the kind of coded language that Jack was talking about. Allen actually used the "dog whistle" language, titling his daily "Playbook" email: "SIREN — OR SHOULD WE SAY 'DOG WHISTLE'?" And Todd tweeted, "Odd way to phrase it."

What do you make of Jack's and Mike Allen's and Chuck Todd's takes?

This program aired on August 23, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.