Blue State Blues: When Will Media Ask Democrats to Disavow David Duke?

CNN anchors (Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty)
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

When former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed President Donald Trump for president in 2015, the media could not stop talking about it — no matter how many times Trump disavowed Duke’s support.

Yet on Thursday, when Duke applauded Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), calling her “the most important Member of the US Congress,” and tweeting an adoring image of her, only a few conservative news outlets picked up the story.

Duke has backed Omar for several weeks, as she has tweeted — and repeated — antisemitic claims that members of Congress who support Israel have been bribed to do so, and that Americans who support Israel are unpatriotic.

On Thursday, Omar and her supporters successfully resisted efforts to rebuke her for her remarks, forcing a watered-down resolution that submerged antisemitism in other forms of hate and failed to mention Omar by name.

Omar also refused to apologize or retract her latest remarks, even though Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which she serves, had insisted that she do so.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi undermined Engel and backed the radical first-term congresswoman, telling reporters Thursday that Omar did not need to apologize: “I do not believe she understood the full weight of the words,” Pelosi said. The speaker also left Omar’s committee assignments intact.

(In contrast, when Rep. Steve King (R-IA) appeared to defend white supremacy in an interview in January with the New York Times, Republicans booted him from all of his committee assignments and supported a resolution that named him specifically in the opening sentence. Republicans took a stand against hate; Democrats are excusing it.)

After the lopsided vote on the resolution, Omar declared victory. In a statement co-authored by Omar and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and André Carson (D-IL), she hailed the resolution on antisemitism — which she herself had triggered — as a milestone, calling it “the first time we have ever voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history.” (In fact, Congress voted to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry just days after the Sep. 11, 2001, terror attacks.)

Duke was impressed, and praised Omar’s stand against what he and fellow extremists call the “Z.O.G.” (Zionist Occupation Government):

As if to clarify how a white supremacist could support a black Muslim woman, Duke added that the Jews are the real enemy: “Omar is wrong on many things …  But the Muslims did not change our laws , open our gates, or teach our people to hate themselves – The Zionist Occupied Media & Gov did. The Zio Stranglehold must go!”

In a similar conspiratorial vein, Omar tweeted in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world” — a tweet she only deleted last month, after repeated objections.

Thus far, Omar has not disavowed Duke, nor has she been asked to do so. Nor have any reporters asked Pelosi whether she and her party repudiate Duke’s support for the idea that repeated antisemitism requires no apology.

Republicans are held to a different, absurd standard: if Duke embraces them, they are presumed to reciprocate.

That is how the mainstream media treated Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. In August 2015, Politico asked Trump whether he would accept Duke’s endorsement. “I don’t need his endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement,” Trump said. On February 26, 2016, after Duke praised Trump again, reporters asked Trump the same question. “David Duke endorsed me? OK, alright. I disavow, OK?” Trump told them.

But on Feb. 28, CNN’s Jake Tapper thought Trump still needed to disavow Duke’s support. “I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about. … You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I would have to look,” Trump said.

Trump also clarified the next day, calling Duke a “bad person” and noting that he had disavowed him repeatedly.

Nevertheless, Democrats and the media repeatedly claimed Trump had failed to disavow Duke, or had been “slow to reject” Duke’s support. MSNBC even reported in 2017: “We saw the president all but praising David Duke during the campaign.”

So the question is fair: Will Democrats denounce David Duke? Why haven’t they been asked already?

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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