Fox anchor apologizes after Obama gaffe

NEW YORK (AP) — A Fox News Channel anchor apologized for falsely saying that President Barack Obama had offered to pay for the operation of a museum of Muslim culture “out of his own pocket” during the government shutdown.

Anchor Anna Kooiman made the remark Saturday on “Fox & Friends” during a discussion about closed facilities. She didn’t cite a source, but a satirical news site called “National Report” had posted a story headlined: “Obama Uses Own Money to Open Muslim Museum Amid Government Shutdown.”

The fake story said that Obama had “held a press conference” to announce he would use his own money to reopen the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Miss.

Kooiman said Saturday she didn’t think it was fair that World War II veterans faced a closed Washington monument honoring people killed during that conflict.

“We’re going to talk a little bit later in the show, too, about some things that are continuing to be funded,” she said. “And President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture.”

It was her last mention of the museum. On Sunday, she said on Twitter that she had made a mistake after receiving flawed research. “My apologies,” she tweeted. “Won’t happen again.”

Fox will correct the mistake on the air this Saturday, a spokeswoman said. Fox’s policy is to correct mistakes on the same show where they are made.

It’s not clear how the mistake was made. The National Report doesn’t clearly label the story a joke. One story on the site Monday was headlined “Jesus Christ Boycotts Hobby Lobby,” a reference to the craft store. Polls show a consistent minority of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, even though he is Christian.

At least one thing is accurate in the story. There actually is an International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Miss., and it has been open since 2001. The museum does not take federal operating funds and is not affected by the shutdown, said Okolo Rashid, its co-founder, on Monday.

She said she was bewildered to get dozens of calls regarding Obama — some of them disturbing — in the past few days until one of her co-workers pointed out the spoof story.

“Of course, they’re supposed to check their facts,” she said. “But often, they don’t.”

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