CNN’s Jake Tapper Deserves Credit For Being the First to Grill Keith Ellison On His Ties To Farrakhan
It was in early February that the Wall Street Journal broke the story about Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and the 2013 event he attended alongside anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, which was years after the prominent Democrat denounced his previous ties to the Nation of Islam founder back in 2006 when he first ran for Congress.
For nearly five months (or 12 years when you think about it), Ellison was never pressed by the media about his relationship with a man who called white people “potential humans,” Adolf Hitler a “very great man,” and literally blamed Jews for 9/11. And frankly, it’s remarkable how Ellison’s own history of controversial remarks haven’t tarnished his public image. He once called for a separate country for Black Americans. He reportedly ranted to classmates that Jews were “oppressors” to minorities. He also defended convicted domestic terrorist Sara Jane Olson and convicted cop killer Assata Shakur (and also praised Fidel Castro for giving her asylum in Cuba).
In case you didn’t know, he’s currently a sitting congressman, the deputy chairman of the DNC, and he’s now running to become the Attorney General of Minnesota. This isn’t some low-level, nobody Democrat. Keith Ellison has a top position in the Democratic Party. And before this week, no one in the media confronted him one-on-one for any of this, which paled in comparison to their coverage of, for example, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for retweeting a Nazi or Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart for his campaign ties to the alt-right. Seems pretty lopsided, don’t you think?
Well, Ellison was finally given the grilling he long deserved.
On Tuesday, CNN anchor Jake Tapper invited the Democrat on to discuss the Supreme Court upholding President Donald Trump‘s travel ban, which was obviously something Ellison opposed. But in the middle of the interview, Tapper segued from talking about the president’s “bigotry” to the bigotry of Farrakhan, someone he noted Ellison “used to follow.”
“I’d have to disagree with that, sir,” Ellison reacted.
“What are you disagreeing with?” Tapper asked. “Well, you’re decrying bigotry and Louis Farrakhan is a pretty clear bigot.”
Ellison claimed the comparison was a “false equivalency” and denied he had ever supported Farrakhan, which was a lie. He even accused Tapper of “trying to put [him] on the spot.” Tapper then invoked the “four Pinocchios” the Washington Post gave Ellison for saying he had “no relationship” with Farrakhan, something Ellison refuted by saying “they were wrong.”
The greatest part of the whole exchange was when Ellison tried to victimize himself by pretending that the travel ban was merely Tapper’s pretext to get him on air to talk about Farrakhan as if it was some sort of trap (Tapper flat-out denied that assertion).
“You know, I’m disappointed that’s why you called me on your show today” Ellison told the CNN anchor. “The Supreme Court has ruled that the president’s ban on Muslim and Muslim countries, which started in his campaign rhetoric, that that is okay. And now, Jake, you want me to have to justify myself based on facts that were not true and were always political. And so that’s a shame, Jake, because we can’t have a real conversation… I came on here to talk about the Muslim ban, and now you’re trying to put me on the spot. It’s not fair!”
Tapper then pressed Ellison about Farrakhan’s claim that two had met in 2016 his hotel suite.
“That did not happen,” Ellison declared.
“So Farrakhan’s lying,” Tapper followed.
“I don’t know if he’s lying or not,” Ellison replied. “I could tell you that I was in no such meeting.”
Ellison was clearly caught off guard by the line of questioning and by the end of their interview, he was absolutely rattled. This was the first time that anyone in the media truly held his feet to the fire about his ties to Farrakhan. And frankly, it’s stunning Ellison still has such a substantial platform since any Republican would be chased out of town if it was discovered they had ties to someone like David Duke.
Because Democrats have not been in power, much of the media have gone easy on them and kept their focus on Trump and Republicans. So Tapper’s grilling of Ellison was brilliantly refreshing. And despite getting testy, Tapper handled the interview professionally.
For over a decade, Ellison managed to fend off any criticisms about his relationship with Farrakhan. Perhaps those days are finally over.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.