On July 6, NASA director Charles Bolden said in an interview that reaching out to the Muslim world in joint space exploration projects was a primary goal of renewed NASA efforts. Two weeks of conservative pundit mockery and one "Daily Show" segment later, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs corrected Bolden in his explanation of Obama’s vision for NASA.

"That was not his task, and that's not the task of NASA," said Gibbs, referring to Bolden’s comments on Muslim outreach.

Bolden had suggested that the outreach policy would strengthen foreign relations and help Muslim nations “feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Among the scathing reviews of Bolden’s comments was that of the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer on Fox News who said the policy was “the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy.”

Many in the blogosphere echoed the views of a Washington Times editorial, which claimed that Muslims and Islam had little to offer space exploration as “Islam's meager contribution to human technological advancement is no accident.”

Gibbs said that the administration has since spoken to Bolden about his assigned roles. Obama’s instructions to Bolden were to engage with the best scientists in the world, including but not limited to those from Muslim-majority countries.

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