The headlines from CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post on Tuesday had trouble explaining the honest truth: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made anti-Semitic comments over the weekend and was slammed by fellow Democrats. A CNN on-screen graphic spun, “Rep. Omar Apologizes 'Unequivocally' for Tweets Called Anti-Semitic.”
Called anti-Semitic? As a reminder, the Minnesota Democrat used an old trope, saying that Jews were buying lawmakers and “all about the Benjamins, baby.” This is the same woman who once called Israel “evil.”
The Washington Post print sub-headline on Tuesday offered a boring headline recounting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi having to call out her Democratic colleague’s anti-Semitism: “Minnesota Democrat Faces Bipartisan Backlash Over ‘Anti-Semitic Tropes.’”
The New York Times print edition also put the word anti-Semitism in quotes: “Democrat Rues Tweet on Israel After Backlash: Her Allies Denounce ‘Anti-Semitic Tropes.’” (The online versions are different.) When Republican Congressman Steve King made offensive remarks defending white supremacy, The January 16, 2019 print edition of the Times didn’t equivocate: “Republican’s Racism Is Punished. Some Ask Why It Took So Long.”
The text from the Post article offered more clarity about Omar’s attacks on Jews:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership on Monday condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar for suggesting that Israel’s allies in American politics were motivated by money rather than principle, an extraordinary rebuke of a House freshman in the vanguard of the party’s left flank.
The Minnesota congresswoman’s Sunday evening tweet — “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” a reference to $100 bills — drew immediate denunciations from Republicans and fellow Democrats, especially Jewish members of Congress. Within hours, Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the leadership issued a joint statement calling Omar’s “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” deeply offensive and insisted on an apology.
Writers Mike DeBonis and Rachel Bade acknowledged: “But for most Democrats on Monday, Omar’s tweets crossed the line by playing into ancient stereotypes about wealthy Jews.”
The Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg questioned GOP criticism of the incendiary comments: “Republicans, sensing an opportunity to woo Jewish voters, have sought to exploit those divisions, and on Monday evening, Mr. Trump weighed in.” However, she also pointed out:
At the same time, Ms. Pelosi is facing questions from Republicans in Congress about whether she went far enough. When Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, made comments embracing white supremacy, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, stripped him of his committee assignments and the House passed a resolution condemning his words.
Back on CNN, anchor Jim Sciutto talked to ex-GOP Congressman Charlie Dent and tried to turn Omar’s tweets back on Republicans:
I'm curious if you think the Republican Party has been sufficiently vigilant in policing bigotry within its own ranks whether you are talking about Steve King. My colleague Jake Tapper brought up that Kevin McCarthy weeks ago, in the midst of the wall debate, talked about what many took as an anti-Semitic comment accusing George Soros of funding the caravan. Has your party been vigilant calling out its own bad behaviors and comments?
CNN’s John King tried this spin on Monday.
A partial CNN transcript is below:
10:11 AM ET
CNN Graphic: Rep. Omar Apologizes “Unequivocally” for Tweets Called Anti-Semitic
JIM SCIUTTO: I want to ask you now about a different topic, that of course the comments by Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar regarding Jewish money influencing members of congress. She issued an apology — I’m going to put this up on the screen — saying the following. “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.” First to you, Bakari Sellers, the apology, does that settle the issue for you for Congresswoman Omar?
BAKARI SELLERS: No, it doesn’t settle the issue. I think that her comments were ignorance that were enveloped in anti-Semitism.
SCIUTTO: Charlie Dent, I'm curious if you think the Republican Party has been sufficiently vigilant in policing bigotry within its own ranks whether you are talking about Steve King. My colleague Jake Tapper brought up that Kevin McCarthy weeks ago, in the midst of the wall debate, talked about what many took as an anti-Semitic comment accusing George Soros of funding the caravan. Has your party been vigilant calling out its own bad behaviors and comments?