Barack Obama's week-old presidential campaign has been hit with a smear. Hillary Clinton's White House bid, launched Saturday, has been attacked with an unfounded accusation.
Contrary to what was reported in Insight magazine and then repeated on Fox News and in other news outlets, including a column that ran in the Sun-Times by free-lancer Mark Steyn, Obama was not educated in a radical Islamic school when he was an elementary student in Jakarta.
And there is no evidence whatsoever that Clinton's campaign had anything to do with spreading the damaging rumor that Obama hid a Muslim background.
The source for both slurs started in a report posted on the Web site of Insight, a conservative magazine published by the Washington Times. The article with no named sourcing alleged that researchers connected to Clinton dug up information about Obama as part of a "background check."
Over the past few days the story bounced around the blogosphere and then spilled over to other conservative outlets.
Let's set the record straight.
Obama's U.S. mother, divorced from his Kenyan father, married an Indonesian she met at the University of Hawaii and moved to Jakarta in 1967, when Obama was 6.
He wrote in his memoir, Dreams from My Father, that he was educated in Muslim and Catholic schools there.
Obama reflected about his life in Indonesia in his second book, The Audacity of Hope.
CNN sent senior international correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to visit Obama's elementary school, which he attended between 1969 and 1971. It is clearly not the sort of school that breeds violent fanatics.
The pictures show boys and girls at the state-run Basuki School wearing blue and white uniforms taught by men and women wearing Western dress.
It is located in a wealthy Jakarta neighborhood, located down the road from the home of the U.S. ambassador. Vause described the school as "probably better off than most."
"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, the deputy headmaster, told CNN. "In our daily lives we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the episode was not damaging to Obama's campaign but was "a black eye on journalism" because it "shakes people's faith in the truth."
I asked Gibbs if he thought Clinton's camp had anything to do with this and he said, "I don't."
Last year, at the end of a trip to Africa, Obama said he planned to visit Indonesia in 2007.