House GOP ouster of Ilhan Omar from Foreign Affairs committee is a big win for right-wing media
Conservatives demanded revenge for past removals of extremists Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar after they supported political violence and white nationalism
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Thursday to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in a move that some in mainstream media are characterizing as a political victory for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) by uniting his own fractured party caucus. What this event actually demonstrates is the total domination of the House Republican agenda by right-wing media outlets and the culmination of a long-running campaign to deflect from their own increasing extremism.
House Republicans used this move as a form of retribution for events in 2021, when House Democrats stripped far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) from their committees. In those cases, Greene and Gosar had made a variety of violent threats against Congress as an institution and their colleagues as individuals.
Greene was stripped of committee assignments in early 2021 after her earlier social media history revealed endorsements of the executions of prominent Democratic officials with whom she would go on to serve in Congress. In her 2020 House campaign, Greene also used imagery of herself holding a gun next to photos of Omar and other progressive House members. Similarly, the House stripped Gosar of his committee seats in late 2021 after he posted an animated video depicting himself as a heroic figure killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), as well as attacking President Joe Biden.
Omar has not done anything comparable to these violent and threatening actions. Instead, the right has targeted her for years with baseless personal smears, attacks on her Muslim religious affiliation, attempts to depict her as a supporter of terrorism, and anti-immigration attacks against her for having been a refugee to the United States from Somalia. Following bipartisan criticisms in 2019 about offensive remarks she made relating to U.S. support for Israel, Omar met with her Jewish colleagues and issued a public apology. (Right-wing media have been undeterred, accusing her of being an Islamist radical who literally “wants to see Jews die,” while they have also turned a blind eye to associations between Republican politicians and antisemitic media platforms.)
By contrast, after their apparent threats of violence against their colleagues, Greene and Gosar never made amends. Instead, they have given speeches at white nationalist events and maintained financial ties with and continued media access for white nationalist commentators. Greene recently stated that, if she had been in charge of planning the January 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol, Trump’s supporters “would have won.” And late last year, Gosar promoted a film from white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes, which drew harsh criticism from fellow Arizona Republicans. Greene is now a close ally of Speaker McCarthy, who granted both her and Gosar prominent committee assignments in a move that has drawn praise from right-wing media.
From the moment Greene arrived on the national political scene in 2020, right-wing media outlets attempted to depict a false equivalence between her and Omar in an effort to normalize Greene’s links to the violent QAnon conspiracy theory movement. Right-wing commentators voiced these comparisons again in 2021 when the House first took action against Greene.
The continued attacks against Omar, and the promise of revenge against her in particular for Greene and Gosar facing consequences for their unrepentant extremism, have become a hallmark of right-wing media coverage over the past several years. That coverage has now borne fruit.
Right-wing media demanded action against Rep. Omar following pressure to boot Reps. Greene and Gosar from committees
- The Washington Examiner boosted the Republican effort against Omar, publishing a piece titled “If Marjorie Taylor Greene is punished, Ilhan Omar should be too, some House Republicans say.” [Washington Examiner, 2/3/21]
- Breitbart posted a headline saying, “Republicans look to drop Rep. Ilhan Omar from committee assignments” because of her “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” [Breitbart, 2/3/21]
- The Daily Wire claimed that Omar had an “extensive history in trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes” that are “similar to what was promoted in Nazi Germany.” [The Daily Wire, 2/3/21]
- Anti-Muslim activist and founder of ACT for America Brigitte Gabriel: “If Ilhan Omar hasn't lost her committees, why should Marjorie Taylor Greene? Omar said REPREHENSIBLE things WHILE STILL IN CONGRESS. Greene is being blasted for something allegedly posted on social media YEARS AGO. The Dems only think Republicans should be held accountable.” [Twitter, 2/2/21]
- Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer introduced a segment on Greene and Omar by saying, “Let's pick up on the Ilhan Omar tit-for-tat.” Hemmer argued that while Greene “might be weird and kooky,” Omar “is seen as racist.” Guest Josh Holmes, former chief-of-staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), argued that Republicans are the only “party that is taking acknowledgement” of extremism within their party, while Pelosi does “absolutely nothing about Ilhan Omar and, in fact, embrace[s] her and put[s] her on plum committee assignments.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 2/3/21]
- The Federalist argued that if Democrats expelled Greene from Congress — something they were not actually seeking to do — it would set a “dangerous precedent,” drawing a comparison between Omar’s and Greene’s “ill-advised comments.” [The Federalist, 2/3/21]
- On his radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity complained that Omar is on the Foreign Affairs Committee, saying, “There's one standard for Republicans, conservatives, and another standard for Democrats.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 2/3/21]
- Fox host Jesse Watters referenced the Republican Party likely controlling committee assignments in the next Congress before asking guest Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO): “Are you going to be targeting Ilhan Omar?” [Fox News, Fox News Primetime, 11/18/21]
- Discredited conservative author Dinesh D’Souza following Gosar’s removal from committees: “If GOP wins the House, they should immediately boot Maxine Waters, Ilhan Omar, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and AOC. That’s to warm up. Then boot another five. I wish there were better ways to teach Democrats a lesson, but raw power is the only language they understand.” [Twitter, 11/27/21]
Right-wing media again demanded action against Ilhan Omar following the 2022 GOP House victory
- Fox host Sean Hannity encouraged McCarthy to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/1/23]
- Fox political analyst Gianno Caldwell: “I think Kevin McCarthy, the speaker, should remove her from that committee.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 1/31/23]
- Fox host Mark Levin on his radio show: “The idea that” Omar “would be on any, any country’s Foreign Affairs Committee is outrageous.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 1/25/23]
- Fox host Jesse Watters on GOP efforts to remove Omar, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell from committees: “I want to see the sergeant of arms come into the committee hearing and grab them by the elbow and escort them out like a bouncer.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/11/23]
- Fox contributor Newt Gingrich: “Omar is an openly antisemitic, anti-Israeli bigot. She certainly should not be in the Foreign Relations Committee.” [Fox News, Hannity, 11/21/22]
- Fox & Friends Weekend hosts celebrated McCarthy’s vow to remove Omar from the committee. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 11/20/22]