Three years ago, most American newsrooms picked Ilhan Omar — despite her crawling Jew-hatred and evidence of an extensive criminal past — to be the transcendent face America needed to fight bigotry and federal corruption. Reporters apparently chose to lie about Omar to help birth a more trusting country.
Perfectly irrational idiocy. Legacy newsmedia, decayed, perhaps brought itself final ruin by getting exactly what it wanted.
The first Somali-born woman and the first female Muslim to be elected to a U.S. statehouse, Ilhan Omar defeated 44-year incumbent Phyllis Kahn in the Democrat-Farmer-Labor primary for Minnesota House District 60B in 2016. A former child refugee from civil war, Omar was perceived as a best-case image for shepherding progressive causes against President Trump. Ilhan Omar’s individual character, however, was openly trending towards worst-case.
She had written anti-Semitic statements indistinguishable from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. She had disturbing associations with Islamic terror-tied groups. Sources within the Minneapolis Somali community presented evidence, including a video, of the “East Africa Team” members of Ilhan Omar’s campaign openly threatening local Somalis who may have released negative information about her.
Then came the harder evidence of corruption: Publicly available state records, viewed along with her own confirmed, time-stamped social media posts, suggested a breathtaking spree of state and federal felonies.
The social media posts, visible to anyone who cared to investigate, were rapidly being deleted from Omar’s confirmed accounts.
Best-case image, worst-case character: Would legacy outlets publish the facts, then chase more? While self-righteously condemning Trump’s “fake news” jab, would editorial decision-makers see an illusory greater good in faking it?
Reporters Preya Samsundar of AlphaNewsMN, Scott Johnson of Powerline, myself, and virtually no one else attempted to sway the most influential media decision on Omar: that of Minnesota’s largest outlet, the Star Tribune. In addition to our many published articles, the Star Tribune received calls and emails from us offering to privately share additional leads we had gathered.
Virtually nothing came of it.
In the first hours after Omar was elected to Congress in November 2018, the media — literally, the media in its entirety — made a similar choice:
On June 6, 2019, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released the results of a several-months investigation of Omar. (The investigation had been opened primarily through the efforts of Minn. State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-21B). Few other elected officials dared even to speak on record about Ilhan’s apparent finance violations.) The Board’s findings included a presumably career-ending admission for Omar: For at least two years, 2014 and 2015, she jointly filed her income taxes with a man who was not her husband.
There is no box to check for “unmarried filing jointly.” Joint filers are either legally married or potential tax felons. Further, Ilhan Omar was legally married to another man at that time — and was in fact married to that second man from 2009-2017.
What phenomenal headline material!
Which the Star Tribune did not use. In fact, the paper chose to not even report that the likely tax fraud shock was in the Board’s findings. But the paper did include a quote from Omar — “I’m glad this process is complete” — and left it unchallenged.
Quickly shamed on social media, Star Tribune published a do-over the following day which did include the joint-filing discovery.
Two weeks later, on June 22, the Star Tribune finally — after three years of prodding — mentioned the disturbing, overwhelming fact pattern pointing to Ilhan Omar having been on an eight-year felony spree.
Ironically, or of course, the paper apparently made another unethical decision in its long-awaited relent.
No outlet besides the Star Tribune seems to bear more fault for marching national disgrace Ilhan Omar into office, where she promptly stirred a global rise in anti-Semitism. Yet in finally covering Omar’s past, the Star Tribune did not mention the reporters whose work comprised virtually the entire case against her. Or that it had seemingly done nothing with our private offers to share evidence.
We were referred to as nameless “conservative activists.”
Similarly, the Washington Examiner — having mostly passed on our Omar story for three years until the Star Tribune deemed it an acceptable topic — flew a reporter to Minneapolis. The reporter published an article on Omar which was a duplicate of virtually all of our work as well. It was touted by the reporter as an “EXCLUSIVE”. The reporter praised herself on social media for flying to Minneapolis and finding so much evidence in just 48 hours.
I am posting this along with my new evidence on Powerline today in hopes that the Ilhan Omar era will not be chronicled as that of a corrupt and bigoted politician. Those come and go. The historical record, written objectively, should focus on the three years of apparently deliberate unethical choices made by legacy news media.
Charmed with credentials, political belief, and cultural approval above fact-finding, it seems they chose to fawn over a seemingly corrupt anti-Semite because her identity felt like a heaven-sent club to wield against Donald Trump.
Fittingly, the media bookended this “see no evil” period of the Ilhan Omar era with more perfectly irrational idiocy: It seems the media chose to whitewash its responsibility and duplicate the work of other reporters … to repair trust with its customers.
Ilhan Omar, the media’s very own national disgrace, is a fine moment for customers to say “never again” about being misled.
David Steinberg was New York City Editor at PJMedia from 2009-2019, primarily handling coverage of Israel, homeland security, and political corruption. His investigation of Eric Cantor’s 2014 primary campaign is credited (ask Dave Brat!) with tipping the historic loss, perhaps the beginning of the “Trump Era.” Since 2018, Steinberg has published several articles of exclusive evidence covering Rep. Ilhan Omar’s past; they can be accessed here.
Follow David Steinberg on Twitter: https://twitter.com/realDSteinberg