Dan Gainor: Ilhan Omar and WikiLeaks draw praise and criticism in media

The offensive 9/11 comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have now escalated into a full-scale war of words. Many in the media are siding with Omar, of course.

Omar’s description of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as “some people did something” has turned into the latest example of how the media make excuses for Democratic disarray. Omar had already apologized twice for some of her anti-Semitic comments. This time, she’s fighting back.

President Trump blasted Omar, posting a video on Twitter mixing her words with horrific scenes of the 9/11 attacks. Trump wrote just four words: “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ THANKS BERNIE SANDERS, ELIZABETH WARREN FOR DEFENDING ILHAN OMAR AFTER TRUMP’S 9/11 VIDEO

The media and the left were already in an uproar over criticism of Omar. Trump’s criticism got the media even more upset – especially the far-left media. MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted: “The President is actively and willfully endangering the life of a member of Congress.”

HuffPost attacked the president and led its front page with, “SICKENING: TRUMP DROPS 9/11 SMEAR.” It later changed the headline to “TRUMP VILE.” That headline jumped to a page headlined “Trump Uses 9/11 Footage To Advance Right-Wing Attacks On Ilhan Omar.”

Omar is part of the far-left trio of Democratic freshmen who journalists love for the very controversy they bring.

Democratic strategist Waleed Shahid told MSNBC: “There’s a 200 mph ideological right-wing war machine” aimed at Omar and other prominent freshmen Democrats.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo ran the video Trump posted and immediately apologized for doing so, criticizing Trump. “That video should not be used in political hit ads. I’m using it to make a point. I didn’t make the ad. If I thought about it more, I don’t think I’d even play the ad,” he told viewers.

The New York Post didn’t join in the defense of Omar. It ran an amazing front page that included a photo of the Twin Towers burning with Omar’s quote over them: “Rep IILHAN OMAR: 9/11 WAS ‘SOME PEOPLE DID SOMETHING.’” Below it in larger type was the Post’s powerful response. “Here’s your something” appeared in big, bold type, followed by “2,977 people dead by terrorism.”

That set off Omar’s media defenders. GQ complained: “The New York Post’s Craven Ilhan Omar Cover Was an Insult to All New Yorkers.” Mediaite headlined: “‘Journalistically and Morally’ Wrong.”

The Washington Post was nearly as harsh: “A ‘pure racist act’: N.Y. Post slammed for using 9/11 to attack Rep. Omar over speech on Islamophobia.” The article went further, claiming the New York Post “had overstepped the bounds of acceptability.” It even tied the New York Post to “incitement of violence.”

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler tried to rationalize what Omar said. He wrote: “‘Some people did something’: Rep. Omar’s remarks in context.” It was an odd analysis for Kessler, who piles Pinocchio awards on Trump for statements Kessler deems false.

Even though Kessler pointed out that Omar was 100 percent wrong claiming the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded after 9/11, she wasn’t awarded any Pinocchios.

What readers received was a defense of Omar and CAIR, which Kessler described as “an aggressive Muslim civil liberties organization, modeled on the Anti-Defamation League.” He did admit that CAIR was “named as an ‘unindicted co-conspirator or joint venturer’ in the Holy Land Foundation case – an Islamic charity that in 2008 was convicted of funding Islamist militant groups.”

Kessler ended by practically writing Omar’s defense. “When we listened to the whole speech, we were reminded of President George W. Bush’s phrasing in two famous moments after the Sept. 11 attacks,” he said.

Omar is part of the far-left trio of Democratic freshmen who journalists love for the very controversy they bring. Omar was joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Rolling Stone’s March cover. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is the third member of the freshmen trio.

Tlaib actually went on MSNBC after the New York Post cover calling for uniting “our country against those kinds of hateful” attacks. She’s also the same person who proclaimed she planned to impeach Trump and referred to him with an obscenity.

Media Muddled over Assange Arrest

The arrest Thursday of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange in London didn’t generate the worst media of the week. It did result in some of the most confusing reports.

WikiLeaks gained a reputation for publishing secret and classified information, including the private emails of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman John Podesta.

The case has always been difficult to define. Assange’s supporters land on the far right and far left, as well as many in the news media. A commentary piece from a former Guardian editor summed up the problem: “Julian Assange: Bond villain or cyber-messiah? It's complicated.”

Alan Rusbridger, who led the Guardian for 20 years, called Assange a “journalist,” only he didn’t stop there. “But Assange is also a publisher, a political activist, a hacker, an information anarchist, a player.”

That’s the problem. Some of that is protected free press. Some of it isn’t. In the online publishing world, definitions aren’t clear cut.

Politico went with: “Assange charges could unsettle liberals, conservatives – and Trump.” It wasn’t wrong. But add journalists to that list. The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan wondered if Assange was “essentially a publisher” or “a reckless traitor.”

There were no definitive answers. Far-left Truthout ran an op-ed from Marjorie Cohn, the former president of the National Lawyers Guild, headlined “Assange’s Indictment Treats Journalism as a Crime.”

The Root’s Politics Editor Jason Johnson said Assange’s arrest was “dangerous.”

And the liberal Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald depicted the arrest as “the criminalization of journalism.”

Conservative documentary maker Dinesh D'Souza explained his support for Assange. “Think of all the stuff we wouldn’t know without Assange. He was our media when we had no media to speak of. And we still don’t! Give the man a medal,” he tweeted.

Even Trump praised WikiLeaks during his 2016 presidential campaign that proved embarrassing for Hillary Clinton.

Yet WikiLeaks also came in for plenty of criticism. Meghan McCain of “The View” blasted Assange and WikiLeaks, saying: “They're not First Amendment. He was a cyberterrorist!”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

And MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews credited WikiLeaks with the “surprisingly strong showing by Trump in Pennsylvania.”

The Atlantic ran a piece saying Assange “Got What He Deserved.” The opening paragraph was so vicious it must be read to be believed: “In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY DAN GAINOR