Fox silent after Rep. Omar says death threats have increased since Trump claimed she downplayed 9/11

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Fox News has ignored Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)'s statement that she has seen an increase in death threats against her since President Donald Trump tweeted a video claiming she downplayed and disrespected 9/11. Fox, which has repeatedly smeared Omar and questioned her loyalty to the United States, is the only one of the three major cable news networks to ignore the threats to Omar.

While speaking at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in March, Omar discussed the anti-Muslim sentiments that many American Muslims endured since 9/11, saying that they had been lumped in with terrorists and had their civil liberties attacked because “some people did something.” Conservatives immediately pounced on her comments, claiming that she was dismissive about 9/11 and demanding she denounce the terror attacks.

On April 12, Trump tweeted a video splicing Omar’s comments with footage from 9/11. Trump drew immediate criticism from Democrats, who noted the danger in suggesting that a Muslim American doesn’t care about the 9/11 terror attacks. Trump’s tweet came the same day one of his supporters was arrested for threatening to kill Omar. Over the weekend, Fox News figures and guests criticized Omar’s comments as well as members of Congress who defended her, claiming that they were simply trying to shut down debate.

On April 14, Omar’s team shared a statement that said, “I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life--many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video, … It has to stop.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had earlier released a statement saying that she had spoken with authorities “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff.” On April 15, Trump again tweeted another smear that said Pelosi should look at Omar’s “ungrateful U.S. HATE statements,” accused Omar of controlling Pelosi, and urged Pelosi to condemn her.

After Omar’s statement revealed an increase in death threats against her, Fox News has become mute on the entire controversy. As of 1 p.m. on Monday, Fox News had not covered the subject at all -- including any reporting on an increase in death threats against Omar -- since her April 14 statement. CNN and MSNBC have both covered Omar's statement repeatedly.

Since Omar was sworn into office, Fox has repeatedly questioned her patriotism and smeared her over bad-faith interpretations of various comments made by Omar. In March, Fox host Jeanine Pirro drew criticism for implying that Omar’s hijab and “adherence to this Islamic doctrine” is “antithetical to the United States Constitution.” The day before, Pirro suggested that Omar is representing other countries in Congress. Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade claimed that “you have to wonder if she’s an American first” before lecturing Omar on how she should represent Muslims. Later that night, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs asserted that Omar “sounds like she hates America,” Jews, and Israelis. Fox Business host Trish Regan has also questioned Omar’s patriotism, claiming that she’s “seemingly anti-American.” Fox has also twisted Omar’s criticism of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to baselessly accuse her of homophobia.