The Federalist: In two CNN interviews, newly-sworn Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was questioned about her baseless accusations that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is “compromised” and that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Omar retracted neither claim. And in the process, CNN demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to confront the Congresswoman’s bigotry and conspiracy-mongering.
On “CNN Newsroom,” anchors Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow asked Omar about the tweet in which she accused Graham of being “compromised.”
When asked for evidence to support the claim, Omar accused Graham of making “not only a 180-turnaround but a 360-turnaround” (Omar was told there would be no math). When pressed further, Omar acknowledged that her accusation was based solely on Graham’s change in view and it was merely her “opinion.”
The interview was revealing as far as it went, but Sciutto and Harlow failed to follow up on a number of fronts which would have been illuminating and newsworthy.
First, Omar’s defense is based on the change in Graham’s statements, yet flip-flops are routine in politics. Graham’s colleagues––including Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul––attacked President Trump in the past and have friendlier opinions of him today. Omar was not asked how far these compromises extend. Conversely, if Graham is compromised, why did he and Trump just have a dispute over the planned troop withdrawal from Syria?
Second, Sciutto and Harlow failed to ask Omar whether she knew the subject of the imagined blackmail. In conservative media, the theory seems to be Omar believes in rumors about Graham’s sexuality. The failure to ask this question is somewhat understandable, insofar as journalists may want to avoid spreading a rumor. But given the likelihood that the homophobia behind the rumor probably motivated the questioning of Omar in the first instance, not addressing the elephant in the room is a questionable choice.
Third, Sciutto and Harlow failed to ask Omar whom she thought responsible for the blackmail. And this failure is much less defensible.
Omar’s Track Record Isn’t So Great
Consider Omar’s track record to date. She has claimed that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Our government’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism includes “the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”
Moreover, after lying to her constituents during the 2018 campaign, Omar announced her support of the boycott, divest, and sanctions (BDS) movement. The premise of BDS––that Israel’s existence is a racist endeavor––is also part of our government’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League notes that BDS denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and has called upon Omar to reconcile this with her campaign rhetoric supporting a two-state solution to conflict with Palestinians.
Our government’s “working definition” further includes “[a]pplying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” The BDS movement does not call for a boycott of China, which is currently holding roughly a million Muslims in detention camps as part of a crackdown on the rights of the Uighurs. Conversely, while it is frequently said that United States enjoys a “special relationship” with the United Kingdom, BDS supporters do not seem obsessed with the idea that American politicians are under the thrall of those crafty Brits, with their sophisticated accents and fairy-tale royal weddings. more here