Media outlets have pounced on old, controversial tweets from Pentagon nominee Army Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Anthony Tata. However, these same outlets have ignored old controversial remarks from the 2020 Democrat nominee Joe Biden.
Trump this month nominated Tata to become the top Pentagon official for policy — the number three position at the department. Tata is a supporter of bringing home U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and would be in an influential position to help the president finally carry that out.
Tata first needs to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, but at least six Democrats say they will oppose his nomination over tweets he made several years ago as a private citizen about Islam and Democrat politicians.
First unearthed by CNN, Tata’s tweets (most of which appear to be part of an argument with another Twitter user) call Islam the “most oppressive violent religion I know of” and claim Obama was a “terrorist leader.”
Tata’s tweets were incorrect and indefensible. He has deleted and apologized for his most controversial tweets. One of those tweets on July 2, 2018, included the conspiracy that Obama is Muslim:
No the point is that Obama is a Muslim who got other countries involved via corporate greed to support a regime (Mullahs) that sponsors anti West hatred and violence using money US unfroze or gave. He made no secret of his belief that a weaker America made for a stronger world.
Tata also tweeted, “No he is just a terrorist leader,” to the same Twitter user, in reference to Obama.
The tweets are being newly and legitimately scrutinized given Tata’s potential role at the Pentagon. However, mainstream media outlets reporting on them — namely CNN, Politico, and the New York Times, have not similarly covered racially insensitive and offensive remarks by the 2020 Democrat nominee Joe Biden.
For example, Biden said during a hearing on busing in 1977 that non-“orderly” racial integration policies would cause his children to “grow up in a racial jungle,” according to Business Insider. Biden had said:
Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point.
Snopes.com, a fact-checking website, in a recent article confirmed Biden’s remarks, writing, “Biden at the time had emerged as the Democratic party’s crusader against busing, taking the same side as segregationists.”
Yet, a search on CNN.com found no reporting on Biden’s “racial jungle” remark — only an opinion piece authored by a media studies professor.
Politico, which has reported extensively on Tata’s nomination as well as his tweets, does not appear to have reported on Biden’s “racial jungle” remark, according to a search of its website.
The New York Times has reported on Tata’s tweets. While the paper did an in-depth report on Biden’s opposition against busing as a way to desegregate schools, it did not include on Biden’s specific “racial jungle” remarks.
Biden also has a litany of other racially offensive remarks, including most recently saying that African Americans who support Trump “ain’t black.”
Supporters of Tata point out the hypocrisy of the media attention on his tweets versus the many offensive statements Biden has made.
“We will not be lectured by the supporters of a man who once expressed concern that desegregation would turn his neighborhood into a ‘jungle,'” said a senior Pentagon official who supports Tata.
A senior White House official added:
As a person of color, it’s painful to watch the media and democrats attack a decorated combat veteran for tweeting a few off color comments while they ignore the record of a man running for president whose career highlights include working with segregationists to keep black folks out of his neighborhood and pushing a crime bill that snatched from countless black families any chance of a shot at the American dream. If institutional racism exists, Joe Biden is one of its principal architects.
Supporters also point out that after Tata retired, he did not go to work in a lucrative defense contractor job as many generals do and instead went to work in the public sector to improve access to advanced education for Black, Hispanic, and low-income household students.
A 2015 Harvard study noted success of the Wake County Public School System when Tata was superintendent between January 2011 and September 2012:
[T]he policy succeeded in moving the district toward the goal of equalizing access to advanced math coursework, both by increasing enrollment among Black students, Hispanic students, and students from lower-income families, and by reducing the role of these demographic factors in the course-assignment process.
Tata served 28 years in the U.S. Army, including as the deputy commanding general of 25,000 troops in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2007.
Retired CIA paramilitary officer Ronald Moeller, who served as the CIA’s chief at Bagram Air Base in 2006, remembers going with Tata out to Afghanistan’s treacherous Korengal Valley to visit troops on Christmas in 2007. The outpost they were landing at had been under intermittent fire all day.
When they got the all clear to to land, they were immediately ambushed by the Taliban.
“It looked like the Fourth of July: [rocket propelled grenades] criss-crossing the sky, tracer fire every which way let loose. I and Tata’s aide pushed Tata out of the helicopter and he made a very good [parachute landing fall] on the ground,” Moeller said.
“You could hear the ‘ding ding ding’ of the bullets impacting the helicopter,” he said.
Moeller said he and Tata’s aide had to restrain him a couple of times because wanted to join the fight, armed only with a Beretta M9 pistol.
“He’s a paratrooper, so I get that,” Moeller said.
He said although he was just a civilian, Tata took time to listen to him and ask questions.
“He has a great ability to listen to others, and to make intelligent decisions based on all the input he’s given,” Moeller said, adding that he also wanted contrary opinions and is not afraid to go against group-think.
Moeller said Tata also knows how to get things done. When people were moving slowly, he said, “You always want to be behind and beside him because you didn’t want to be in front of the blast. That’s the paratrooper in him.”