NPR Anchor Surprised: Black Congresswoman Went 'No Comment' About Ilhan Omar

On Tuesday's Morning Edition newscast, NPR host Steve Inskeep interviewed freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood, who narrowly defeated conservative Rep. Randy Hultgren in November. Inskeep touted how she's rare as a 32-year-old black woman who represents a mostly-white district in suburbs and exurbs around Chicago. But he also explored how she had to modulate her policy talk. "Medicare for All" or "free college" tend to turn some people off, she admitted. They need to talk in an "inclusive" way to the skeptical voter.

INSKEEP: The hashtag is the polarizing thing. It may draw some support to the idea, but it also drives people away.

UNDERWOOD: Right. And I'm into solutions. And I am happy to speak in paragraph statements to talk about the solutions because -- guess what? -- problems are not always illustrated in 140 characters, and solutions are not always illustrated in 140 characters.

But Inskeep discovered the vulnerable Democrat is not always "happy to speak in paragraph statements" when the subject is her fellow freshman Ilhan Omar's ongoing anti-Semitic commentary. 

INSKEEP: This lawmaker, who carefully considers what to say, chose to say very little about another lawmaker's choice of words. The day we met Lauren Underwood was the day last week when the House voted to criticize anti-Semitism. The resolution answered remarks by Underwood's fellow freshman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. That issue divided Democrats, and Underwood was determined not to give it any more fuel.

Did she go too far?

UNDERWOOD: I don't have a comment on that.

INSKEEP: You don't?

UNDERWOOD: I don't.

INSKEEP: You've been pretty frank on every other issue. What makes...

UNDERWOOD: That's why I'm being frank on this one.

INSKEEP: Then why - what do - you mean you don't know what to think about it? Or...

UNDERWOOD: I said I don't have a comment on it.

INSKEEP: In the end, Lauren Underwood, like other Democrats, voted for the resolution condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. But as she represents what is now a swing district, one expected to be competitive next year, she is not wasting many words.

At least they aired that part of the interview, when they could have spiked it.

NPR's interview skipped over abortion. Underwood who touted her days as a nurse in her campaign, was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America and declared “A woman’s right to choose is foundational to my healthcare practice."

Her health care practice? Really? The local media in Illinois reported she's never worked as a nurse, but that's not how she campaigned: 

Her biography begins by describing her as a “registered nurse.” In her interviews and speeches, Underwood frequently describes intimate patient interactions that, she claims, inspired her run against Hultgren.

She told Now This Politics, that, “as a nurse, I have looked into my patients’ eyes when giving discharge instructions knowing they cannot afford the prescription that we’re handing to them.”

According to her own biography, Underwood has never worked as a practicing nurse in a hospital, or in any setting where she would be discharging patients.

Campaigns & Elections 2018 Congressional NPR Morning Edition Steve Inskeep Ilhan Omar
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