Agitated Dem Blames Media for Omar Anti-Semitism Scandal

During a contentious interview with Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on Thursday, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson wondered if the anti-Semitism scandal swirling around fellow House Democrat Ilhan Omar was becoming a “distraction” for the party. Despite being in a friendly forum, Schakowsky railed against the media for covering the controversy and even suggested the reporting was endangering Omar.

“Do you think that what’s been going on as it relates to this resolution is creating problems inside the party and is a distraction from what you want to achieve legislatively?,” Jackson asked at the top of the segment, regarding a vague anti-hate resolution being debated by Democrats to respond to Omar’s recent anti-Semitic comments.

 

 

Schakowsky complained: “You know, I’m going to answer all of your questions about this, but I certainly wish that the media would start to also really cover as a big deal the fact that the House for the first time in 25 years passed two gun safety legislation for background checks.”

Jackson followed up: “But Congresswoman, I think that you would acknowledge that is getting lost in the shuffle because of these other disagreements related to the issues that are going on right now.” The liberal lawmaker ranted in reply: “Well, I think it’s because the press included, Hallie, I’m sorry, also likes to exploit these kinds of maybe more sexy kinds of battles. And it is not a battle. I want to tell you that.”

After assuring the host that “the majority of us are – vast majority – are going to be voting for a resolution that I hope puts this to bed that says...anti-Semitism is a huge deal,” Schakowsky tried to paint Omar as a victim:

Islamophobia is also a huge problem. And I want to tell you that Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman, is under tremendous attack, death threats. I think maybe she needs some security. And why? Because I think, in part, the Republicans and the media have blown this up to be much more than it is.

When the media routinely show bias in favor of them, Democrats gladly accept the help. However, the moment someone in the press actually asks them a legitimate, tough question, liberal politicians immediately cry fowl and suggest their journalist allies are suddenly conspiring with Republicans.

Here is a transcript of the March 7 exchange:

10:28 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: So in just the last few minutes, NBC News has learned the House will take up a resolution opposing hate today. Democratic leadership says the wording is not final yet, but we do expect the language in it to be broader than what the House was planning to vote on earlier this week. That resolution condemning anti-Semitism after controversial comments made by congressman Ilhan Omar.

There’s been some pretty big disagreements inside the Democratic Party over how to handle those comments. Some members say some kind of action is necessary. Others say Omar is being unfairly targeted. All of it made for a real tense caucus meeting yesterday, which hit a boiling point one when lawmaker stood up and confronted Speaker Pelosi directly, criticizing her for how leadership has handled the situation.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who was in that meeting yesterday. She is the Senior Chief Deputy Whip. Congresswoman, thank you very much for coming on the show.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY [D-IL] :My pleasure, Hallie.

JACKSON: So it’s our understanding, it’s been reported that in that feisty caucus meeting yesterday you stood up and at one point pleaded with your colleagues, “Everybody stop tweeting.” Do you think that what’s been going on as it relates to this resolution is creating problems inside the party and is a distraction from what you want to achieve legislatively?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know, I’m going to answer all of your questions about this, but I certainly wish that the media would start to also really cover as a big deal the fact that the House for the first time in 25 years passed two gun safety legislation for background checks. That tomorrow we have one of the biggest bills to make sure that we have fair elections that, you know –

JACKSON: Huge bill on voting and ethics reform rights, absolutely. But Congresswoman, I think that you would acknowledge that is getting lost in the shuffle because of these other disagreements related to the issues that are going on right now.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think it’s because the press included, Hallie, I’m sorry, also likes to exploit these kinds of maybe more sexy kinds of battles. And it is not a battle. I want to tell you that. I did say “stop tweeting” in that caucus yesterday because I think that this is not a conversation that we ought to have on social media and in the public. But if you want to know the truth, the majority of us are – vast majority – are going to be voting for a resolution that I hope puts this to bed that says, yes, as a Jew, anti-Semitism is a huge deal. The anti-Semitic acts are up 50% over last year.

But Islamophobia is also a huge problem. And I want to tell you that Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman, is under tremendous attack, death threats. I think maybe she needs some security. And why? Because I think, in part, the Republicans and the media have blown this up to be much more than it is. We do have to deal with the kind of diversity in our caucus. But I want to tell you, Ilhan talked to me personally.

JACKSON: Yeah, what did she tell you? Do you feel reassured?

SCHAKOWSKY: Not only did she apologize for the words that she has used, but she apologized personally to me as a Jew. And I want to tell you, part of being a Jew is to be welcoming to the stranger. And I want to tell you, Ilhan Omar is a refugee from Somalia, she comes from a different culture. She has things to learn. I am not either trivializing anti-Semitism or the things that she said or saying that it's okay that she said them. But what I am saying is that I think this a learning moment for her and a learning moment for the caucus on how to get along.

And, frankly, it is not – we are concentrating on our People’s Agenda that we are passing in rapid fire order about the things that Americans really do care about. Ethics in government and getting money out of politics. Those are the things that people really care about. So I’m critical both of the Republicans and how about the – the monger – the hate monger, excuse me. The hate-monger-in-chief. I was looking at my staff who came up with this name. And I think it’s really true. When he talked about the people that were marching as Nazis and yelling things about Jews. What did he say? That there is – “There are fine people on all sides.”

JACKSON: “Very fine people on both sides.” Sure, that’s what the President has said. And that, by the way, Congresswoman, was covered quite extensively by the media as well. I know you’re very fired up about this issue. And I want to ask you about the resolution –  

SCHAKOWSKY: I am.

JACKSON: But about the resolution here, have you seen it? Have you seen the wording? Are you satisfied with how far it goes?

SCHAKOWSKY: I saw – had a quick glimpse of a draft. I don’t know what the final draft is going to be. I’m certainly going to vote for it. Because it does condemn in very strong words anti-Semitism. That’s important. And it also does condemn the attacks on Muslims, and it also just says in general that we have to refrain from hate speech. And, you know, we have seen it over and over again. It’s time to stop and to concentrate on what people really are caring about now in terms of their lives and how to make it better. Not to diminish anti-Semitism, as a Jew.

(...)

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