CBS News Interview of Omar Fails to Push Back on Past Comments

CBS News’s Face the Nation recently interviewed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on a variety of subjects. Omar attempted to explain her use of political rhetoric and to dismiss the controversy surrounding her past comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, among other controversial statements.

CBS News host Margaret Brennan asked Omar questions one-on-one on camera but did not follow up any of her questions after Omar responded. Her line of questioning ranged from Congress’s impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump to asylum restrictions.

Brennan also asked about Omar’s comparison of U.S. migrant detention centers to slave dungeons in Ghana, the recent Supreme Court ruling permitting asylum restrictions, her past comments about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and Omar’s thoughts on Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Omar attempted to defuse her past comments about U.S. migrant detention centers are similar to African slave dungeons when Brennan asked her, “Did you mean, when you were talking there, to compare U.S. border agents to slave traders?” Omar blamed her political opponents as wanting to label her as controversial and that when she visited the slave dungeons in Ghana, “that kind of reminded me of what was happening at our border here.” Without pointing out to Omar or the audience that Omar appeared to validate the criticism, Brennan asked Omar to clarify her response, to which Omar obliged and said, “Absolutely not.”

Brennan later asked about Omar’s past comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks at an event, when Omar said, “some people did something.” Brennan asked if Omar understood “why people found that offensive?” Omar responded with some sympathy, saying it was “an attack on all Americans” and how she “certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel.” But, similar to her controversial comment, Omar emphasized that despite the terrible nature of the 9/11 attacks, Americans should not forget how Muslims suffered after 9/11 when it came to civil liberties. Brennan did not follow up with Omar on the question, of whether Omar understood she offended people with her past comment, and therefore her important question went unanswered.

Omar criticized Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently running for re-election in Israel. Brennan asked Omar about her thoughts of being banned from Israel and whether she would “stand by” her Israel boycott. Omar doubled down on her Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) stance and told Brennan, “I think the opportunity to boycott, divest, sanction is the kind of pressure that leads to that peaceful process.” Brennan did not follow up on this answer, either, as many BDS opponents call the BDS movement anti-Semitic and have levied the same claims against BDS supporters like Omar.

The interview did Americans a large disservice in not pushing Omar to clarify her past controversial stances and comments on 9/11, migrant detention centers, and her pro-BDS stance.

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Author: Caroline Lee Smith