Accuracy in Media

Mainstream media outlets’ responses to remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that downplayed the 9/11 attacks have been not so much to defend Omar’s remarks but to claim she was taken out of context.

Many of the sources also reported that President Trump has created a dangerous situation for Omar and her supporters by highlighting her statements.

On Friday, Trump tweeted a video that showed Omar in Los Angeles addressing the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was founded by the terrorist group Hamas.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar said.

The 43-second video then splices together scenes from 9/11 – the buildings being hit in New York, the plane inside the Pentagon, people running through the streets as buildings collapsed – and tweeted “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!” atop it.

“The criticism includes something that is not true,” said Joy Reid on a panel discussion of the issue on her show, AM Joy. “She did not downplay the 9/11 attacks.”

She then indulged from panelist Charles Pierce, writer-at-large for Esquire and an MSNBC contributor, the very kind of racist comments she claimed to decry.

Reid opened the segment with a clip of Brian Kilmeade of Fox who, after seeing Omar’s comments, said, “Some people did something? …. Really? You have to wonder if she’s an American first,” then flashed his tweet walking back the part where he questioned whether she was American.

In a discussion of Kilmeade backing off those comments, she turned to Pierce, who said, “This is a woman who wound up in a refugee camp and is now in the Congress of the United States. As near as I can tell, Brian Kilmeade was formed in some belligerent Irish lab and dropped on a couch with a couple of people. Believe me, I grew up with a thousand Brian Kilmeades.”

Eric Boehlert, Reid’s media analyst, said: “They took this old clip … this clip was weeks old … they completely ripped everything out of context. This a classic kind of bad faith attack. And when you get members of Congress, the White House and Fox News all drilling down on the same freshman congresswoman, it’s an extraordinarily dangerous and powerful smear campaign.”

He went on to say this is part of Fox News’ continuous search for “re-occurring characters” because they “like Democratic women to be these villains, these caricatures. … They don’t want people watching Fox News 20 minutes per day. They want them watching five hours a day. And this is the programming mechanism. And it’s dangerous, and they don’t care.”

Vox wrote in a subhead to its story on the matter {“Democrats unite to condemn Trump tweet linking Ilhan Omar and 9/11;” subhead: “The president’s tweet takes a clip of an Omar speech and combines it with footage from 9/11,” by Gabriela Resta-Montero) that “Omar’s words were taken out of context.” It does not say how they were taken out of context but did say in the piece that “Omar stressed the importance of organizations like CAIR and praised them for helping to protect Muslims from civil rights violations.”

“’It has to stop’: Omar says Trump encourages violence, hate,” read the headline on Darlene Superville’s story on the Associated Press.

HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel included Omar’s longer quote in her story, but she also wrote that “Omar was not dismissing the horror of 9/11, as some have alleged, but rather making a point about discrimination against a large group of innocent people for an act perpetrated by a few individuals.”

Photo by Paris Malone

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