Powers Uses Whataboutism to Defend Anti-Semitic Omar, Suggests Criticism Is Islamophobic, Sexist

Further illustrating how either CNN and Trump have broken her in recent years or that she was a fraud at Fox News, political analyst Kirsten Powers became stricken with an embarrassing case of whataboutism during Thursday’s The Lead

In a span of just over seven minutes, Powers defended Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in light of her numerous anti-Semitic comments, blasting President Trump and suggesting that criticism of Omar has been Islamophobic and sexist.

 

 

Powers prefaced her rigorous defense by suggesting everyone read a column by leftist writer Paul Waldman and then went into spin mode, declaring that Omar “wasn't speaking about Jews having an allegiance as much as she was talking about members of Congress being pressured into having an allegiance” because “the average pro-Israel member of Congress” is “an evangelical Christian or a Republican.”

But wait, there’s more as Powers pivoted to making this an issue of sexism that the President has avoided (click “expand”):

So it's not necessarily talking about Jews having an allegiance. It's just talking about the fact that she feels like she should be able to make criticisms about Israeli policy without being called anti-Semitic. Now she used the word allegiance. I think she shouldn’t have done that because I think it does ignite fears that Jews understandably have and I think that's been explained to her. But I am very uncomfortable with the way she has been singled out here at, you know, while we have a President who routinely makes racist comments about African-Americans’s IQs. He has made anti-Semitic comments as well and has never been condemned. There's never been a resolution by anybody on the Republican side. There was no resolution condemning him, you know, basically saying, you know, there's good people on both sides. So why is this woman being singled out in the way she's being singled out and having the weight of all of Washington come down on her? 

Host Jake Tapper noted that there was a House resolution after Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King’s latest comments on white supremacists, but Powers wasn’t having it as she snapped at Tapper and fellow panelist Amanda Carpenter.

Thankfully, conservative political commentator David Urban took note of how watered down this latest House resolution was and that it left out the rise of anti-Catholic behavior in the U.S. Senate regarding judicial nominees who have been attacked by Democrats.

Tapper then aired a clip of Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) slamming Omar’s comments and the inability of fellow Democrats to condemn them, but Powers approve because she wanted to make things all about Trump and comments made at an event that, as NewsBusters has noted, didn’t exactly cause the audience to cringe (click “expand”):

POWERS: Let me just read a quote from Donald Trump in 2015. 

URBAN: We're talking about Ilhan Omar. We’re not talking about Donald Trump.

POWERS: I'm just referring to what he just said. His complaint. Donald Trump told a room of Jewish Republicans that you're “not going to support me because I don't want your money,” adding that “you want to control your politicians, that's fine.”

TAPPER: It was the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015. 

POWERS: What's different than what he was just complaining about? 

TAPPER: I don't think he would defend that.

CARPENTER: Right.

POWERS: Right, but that's my point. It’s like, why is the — first of all, she didn't say this. I mean, that's not what she said. If we look at what she actually said —

TAPPER: She said it’s — she said it’s — support for Israel was all about the Benjamins, basically. 

POWERS: Which she apologized for profusely and it was wrong and I don’t think she should have said that. But she did apologize for that. 

CARPENTER: But arguably —

POWERS: Donald Trump has never apologized for this. 

Carpenter correctly informed her that “members of Congress have a right to police fellow members of Congress,” but Powers didn’t think it was necessary because talking about people having dual allegiances to Israel and the U.S. wasn’t anti-Semitic. Yes, really.

Before time ran out on the segment, Powers made sure to return to her hinting that the condemnations of Omar are due in part to her faith and gender (click “expand”):

POWERS: [W]hat I’m saying is she’s talking specifically about the fact she doesn't feel like she can talk about these issues without being called anti-Semitic. 

CARPENTER: And she can't do it without invoking anti-Semitic tropes.

POWERS: And, as I said —

CARPENTER: Yes.

POWERS: — she shouldn't have used the word allegiance. I agree with that, but I do think she's learning. 

TAPPER: I think we can all —

URBAN: Words matter. Words matter.

POWERS: And so, right. And so I think she is learning and, for the first time, we have these two Muslim American women in Congress. 

TAPPER: Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Congresswoman Omar.

POWERS: And I think, you know, we need to be able to have a conversation and hear what they're saying without immediately trying to silence them, you know, by calling them anti-Semites.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time CNN tried to assist Omar in a spin operation. In the final half-hour of Wednesday’s CNN Tonight, various guests and fill-in host Erin Burnett tried to downplay Omar and imply that the President is the real problem.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The Lead on March 7, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Lead
March 7, 2019
4:26 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: Kirsten, you heard Speaker Pelosi saying she didn’t believe that Congresswoman Omar’s words were based on anti-Semitism. Here’s some more of what Speaker Pelosi had to say today. 

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: I understand how advocates come in with their enthusiasms, but when you cross that threshold into Congress, your words weigh much more than when you're shouting it at somebody outside. 

TAPPER: Is that what you think is going on here? 

KIRSTEN POWERS: Well, I would recommend people read a piece by Paul Waldman of The Washington Post. He's Jewish. He says he grew up in a Zionist household, so he’s sensitive to these issues and, you know, I tend to see it more the way he sees it, which is she was speaking more — she wasn't speaking about Jews having an allegiance as much as she was talking about members of Congress being pressured into having an allegiance. And if you actually look at the average pro-Israel member of Congress today, they're more likely to be a Republican or an average person, you know, out in the country. They're more likely to be an evangelical Christian or a Republican. So it's not necessarily talking about Jews having an allegiance. It's just talking about the fact that she feels like she should be able to make criticisms about Israeli policy without being called anti-Semitic. Now she used the word allegiance. I think she shouldn’t have done that because I think it does ignite fears that Jews understandably have and I think that's been explained to her. But I am very uncomfortable with the way she has been singled out here at, you know, while we have a President who routinely makes racist comments about African-Americans’s IQs. He has made anti-Semitic comments as well and has never been condemned. There's never been a resolution by anybody on the Republican side. There was no resolution condemning him, you know, basically saying, you know, there's good people on both sides. So why is this woman being singled out in the way she's being singled out and having the weight of all of Washington come down on her? 

TAPPER: I will — I will just note that Steve King, there was a resolution — a similar resolution.

POWERS: Oh, ten years later. I mean, come on, Jake. 

TAPPER: I'm not defending it. 

POWERS: Really? No.

TAPPER: I'm noting that he was taken off his committee. 

POWERS: But I mean, even — but even noting it — I mean, even noting —

AMANDA CARPENTER: Because that’s the thing that actually matters.

POWERS: — no Steve King has been doing what he has been doing —

TAPPER: For nine terms. 

POWERS: The most outrageous, racist, insane things he has been saying, nonstop and then they finally do a resolution, which probably they did it so they could be doing what they're doing right now. 

DAVID URBAN: So, two observations. I think that her — her comments shouldn't be taken in a vacuum. There's a huge rise in anti-BDS sentiment on campus, in the Congress. There’ve been votes. Democrats are voting against these measures.

TAPPER: Anti-Israel? 

URBAN: Anti-Israel. You know, to boycott these settlements. And secondly, a group glaringly omitted from the anti-bigotry portion from that resolution, Catholics. I’m a member of the Catholic faith and I’m wondering why it’s not in there. But listen, let me say this.

TAPPER: I think I did see — maybe it was taken out. There was a reference to the anti-Catholicism that was held against John F. Kennedy. 

URBAN: John F. Kennedy, but you know what? Then I realized that they’d have to condemn half the Democratic caucus in the Senate because all their recent anti-catholic comments and hearings for judges. There's a real — you know, that needs to be included as well. Throwing everybody in the kitchen sink in this resolution, I think Democrats, to their own peril, ignored Catholics in the midterms, coming up in the 2020 elections and all those Rust Belt states. 

TAPPER: I just want to play a little clip from Democratic congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. He’s Jewish. He vented his frustration at his colleague Ilhan Omar’s comments and the debate it’s caused on the House floor. Take a listen. 

CONGRESSMAN TED DEUTCH (D-FL): When one of our colleagues invokes the classic anti-Semitic tropes — the anti-Semitic language that Jews control the world, that Jews care only about money, that Jews can not be loyal Americans if they also support Israel. This, too, must be condemned. [SCREEN WIPE] And it feels like we can't say it's anti-Semitism unless everyone agrees that it's anti-Semitism. 

POWERS: Can I — can I just read a quote from Donald Trump? 

TAPPER: Can I say you probably agree with Ted Deutch on, like, 99 percent of things. 

POWERS: Yeah. 

TAPPER: But you — do you think he's being insincere? 

POWERS: Let me just read a quote from Donald Trump in 2015. 

URBAN: We're talking about Ilhan Omar. We’re not talking about Donald Trump.

POWERS: I'm just referring to what he just said. His complaint. Donald Trump told a room of Jewish Republicans that you're “not going to support me because I don't want your money,” adding that “you want to control your politicians, that's fine.”

TAPPER: It was the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2015. 

POWERS: What's different than what he was just complaining about? 

TAPPER: I don't think he would defend that.

CARPENTER: Right.

POWERS: Right, but that's my point. It’s like, why is the — first of all, she didn't say this. I mean, that's not what she said. If we look at what she actually said —

TAPPER: She said it’s — she said it’s — support for Israel was all about the Benjamins, bascially. 

POWERS: Which she apologized for profusely and it was wrong and I don’t think she should have said that. But she did apologize for that. 

CARPENTER: But arguably —

POWERS: Donald Trump has never apologized for this. 

TAPPER: Correct.

POWERS: And so my point is, she has apologized and I think she is learning, to Jamal's point and so — 

CARPENTER: But this is the second time and members of Congress have a right to police fellow members of Congress.

POWERS: But it's not the second time, Amanda, because of what she said — what she actually said was —

CARPENTER: As they did to Steve King, finally. 

POWERS:  — what she actually said “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it's okay for people to push for allegiance for a foreign country.”

CARPENTER: Yeah, she questioned the allegiance of his colleagues. 

POWERS: So, she was talking about — and she was talking — no —

CARPENTER: That is why the colleagues want to take action. 

POWERS: — but not Jewish colleagues. That's the point. She’s talking about the fact that —

CARPENTER: I think they're Jewish colleagues included in that. 

POWERS: Right but what I’m saying is she’s talking specifically about the fact she doesn't feel like she can talk about these issues without being called anti-Semitic. 

CARPENTER: And she can't do it without invoking anti-Semitic tropes.

POWERS: And, as I said —

CARPENTER: Yes.

POWERS: — she shouldn't have used the word allegiance. I agree with that, but I do think she's learning. 

TAPPER: I think we can all —

URBAN: Words matter. Words matter.

POWERS: And so, right. And so I think she is learning and, for the first time, we have these two Muslim American women in Congress. 

TAPPER: Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Congresswoman Omar.

POWERS: And I think, you know, we need to be able to have a conversation and hear what they're saying without immediately trying to silence them, you know, by calling them anti-Semites. 

JAMAL SIMMONS: There ought to be space to have — stand up for values of tolerance. There also has to be space to have dissent about the actions of a foreign government that is typically is someone who is aligned with a community that is in conflict with that government, ought to be able to speak up and talk about it. 

CARPENTER: But there —

TAPPER: But there's actually another Minnesota Congresswoman, Democrat who is very critical of Israel, much more so than Congresswoman Omar. She just has managed to avoid the tropes, so —

URBAN: She’s off Twitter. She’s off Twitter.

TAPPER: We don’t talk about —

CARPENTER: Good advice for everyone. 

NBDaily Congress Middle East Israel/Palestine Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Religion Catholic Church Islam CNN The Lead Video Government & Press Jake Tapper Kirsten Powers Amanda Carpenter Donald Trump Ilhan Omar
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links