In Interview With Rep. Omar, CNN's Jake Tapper Never Mentions Her Own Derogatory Comments

Susan Jones | December 6, 2021 | 4:34am EST
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CNN's Jake Tapper interviewed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Dec. 5, 2021, omitting a few pertinent facts. (Photo: Screen capture)
CNN's Jake Tapper interviewed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Dec. 5, 2021, omitting a few pertinent facts. (Photo: Screen capture)

( - CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday gave Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar a platform to condemn the "hateful, bigoted comments" made about her by Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert. But Tapper never mentioned the "hateful, bigoted comments" for which Omar was forced to apologize in February 2019.

"So, I want to obviously start with those comments, Boebert comparing you to a terrorist suicide bomber," Tapper told Omar in an exclusive interview on "State of the Union." "What is it like to hear that kind of blatant bigotry, blatant Islamophobia coming from a fellow elected member of the House of Representatives?"

"It's shocking and unacceptable," Omar responded. "And it's very unbecoming of a congresswoman to use that kind of derogatory, dangerous, inciting language against a colleague. Many of us thought, post-9/11, that we were on the mend.

"When I first won, I remember getting phone calls from across the world from heads of states and prime ministers and foreign ministers congratulating me because they thought that America was past its sort of post 9/11- Islamophobia. And to see this happen right now in the halls of Congress really is damaging, not just to the Muslim community, to myself, but to the kind of country we want to be."

Tapper steered the interview in a direction that allowed Omar to describe the House Republican leader as "a liar and a coward" and to paint all Republicans as Islamaphobes:

"This is who they are," Omar said. "And we have to be able to stand up to them. And we have to push them to reckon with the fact that their party right now is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry."

What about Omar's anti-Semitism?

At no time in Sunday's interview did Tapper mention that Omar herself was forced to apologize for anti-Semitic remarks she made on social media.

On Feb. 10, Omar, a Somali-born American Muslim, tweeted about critics of her attacks on Israel, "It's all about the Benjamins baby."  That same day, when asked who was "paying American politicians to be pro-Israel," Omar tweeted, "AIPAC!" in reference to the American-Israeli Polical Action Committee.

In 2012, before she entered Congress, Omar had tweeted, "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel."

The furor over Omar's "Benjamins" tweet prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House Democrat leaders to issue a statement titled, "Democratic Leadership Statement on Anti-Semitic Comments of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar."

The Feb. 11, 2019 statement read:

Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception.

We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests.  Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.

As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered.

In response to that letter, Rep. Omar tweeted on Feb. 11, 2019:

Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents of 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.

At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It's gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.

Again in June 2021, Omar was rebuked by some of her fellow Democrats for putting Israel and the United States in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban:

"We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity," Omar tweeted. "We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice."

Led by Rep. Brad Schneider, a number of Democrats signed a letter to Omar, reading in part: "Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice."

But none of that was mentioned by Tapper on Sunday, who helpfully asked Omar, "What do you think Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders should do, if anything, about this" (Boebert insult)?

"I think it's important for us to say, this kind of language, this kind of hate cannot be condoned by the House of Representatives," Omar said. "And we should punish and sanction Boebert by stripping her of her committees, by rebuking her language, by doing everything that we can to send a clear and decisive message to the American public that, if the Republicans are not going to be adults and condone -- condemn this, that we are going to do that."

Tapper played a hateful voicemail left for Omar, threatening her life.

Omar said she receives such threats all the time: "And we know that the kind of man who leaves that voice-mail for a member of Congress is not going to spare a young Muslim girl when he sees her taking the bus or walking home from school or when he runs into her at the grocery store.

"And so we have a responsibility as leaders," Omar continued. "Words matter. And words can cause violence. And she knows that the language that she's (Boebert) using, the audience that she's using it for is going to incite violence against myself and my community."

Here's how Tapper ended the interview:

"Well, I can't believe that we're here in 2021 in the United States of America. There's -- I can't think of anything less American than this bigotry campaign of Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene and others and the complicity of the leaders of the Republican Party, who have not said a word.

"And I have nothing but sympathy and empathy for you. And we're here to bring attention to this as much as possible," Tapper said.

"I appreciate that," Omar replied.

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