Posted on | June 17, 2014 | 36 Comments
So says Mollie Hemingway (@mzhemingway), reacting to the columnist’s deliberate distortion of a Heritage Foundation event:
This, my friends, is why people loathe journalists. They twist and turn and play gotcha games. Also, they make stuff up. A good editor in my past told me that he was always suspicious of reporters who rely on breaking up a quote multiple times and adding in their own words in between. It means they’re trying to force the speaker to say something. We can now call this the Milbank Rule.
What happened was that a Muslim student at American University attended a panel discussion about Benghazi and — in a complete non sequitur — accused the panelists of blaming “all Muslims” for the terrorist attack in Libya that killed four Americans. This was a rude provocation, but transcripts and video of the event show that the panelists responded courteously. Yet Dana Milbank wrote this:
“Are you an American?” Gabriel demanded of Ahmed, after accusing her of taking “the limelight” and before informing her that her “political correctness” belongs “in the garbage.”
The panelist quoted is Brigitte Gabriel, the Lebanese-American author of an excellent book, Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America, which I have often recommended. But as Hemingway points out, Milbank’s partial quote of Gabriel completely distorts what Gabriel actually said to the student, Saba Ahmed:
And since you’re the only Muslim representative in here, you took the limelight instead of speaking about why our government — and I assume are you an American? — You’re an American citizen — So as an American citizen you set in this room and instead of standing up and saying a question or asking something about our four Americans that died and what our government is doing to correct the problem, you stood there to make a point about peaceful moderate Muslims. I wish you brought 10 with you to question about how we can hold our government responsible. It is time we took political correctness and throw it in the garbage where it belongs.
Do you see the vast difference between what Gabriel actually said and how Dana Milbank characterized it? Brigitte Gabriel isn’t just making a partisan talking point when she criticizes “political correctness” about Islamic terrorism. Our general unwillingness to recognize the nature and scope of the threat made the United States vulnerable to attack 9/11, and our ridiculous fear of offending “peaceful moderate Muslims” continues to hamper an effective response to the radical menace. This is a serious policy problem, and Milbank’s cheap partisan smear job — calculated to depict conservatives as hateful and irrational — is symptomatic of the problem.
Exit question: Which anti-American extremist organization is a greater threat to our freedom, al-Qaeda or the Washington Post?