In a 2015 interview, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) described then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-M.N.) shared a video of the interview. She commented on Twitter that Graham has since been “compromised.”
Her tweet was actually a retweet of one that linked to the video, and she noted: “I can’t even imagine what they have on Graham.”
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They got to him, he is compromised! https://t.co/m8sB3EmElg
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 16, 2019
Then a couple of days later she clarified her comment on CNN, Media Matters for America reports. She argued that Graham’s changing rhetoric on Trump over the past three years indicates that he is “compromised to no longer stand up for the truth.”
That has caused some members of the right-wing media to seemingly lose their minds. Some are making the bizarre claim that Omar is suggesting Graham is being blackmailed over his sexuality.
But that’s about as far away from the truth as you can get. She never even suggested that during the interview. Instead, she mentioned three areas that may be being used to change his behavior. She cited “his funding when it comes to running for office,” polling information from the districts he serves, and leadership positions within the Senate.
Then the Breitbart spin machine got to work, dropping a rather manic headline:
“Rep. Ilhan Omar Furthers Homophobic Conspiracy That Lindsey Graham’s ‘Compromised.’
Other right-wing media figures jumped in as well.
Tom Elliott, who founded the TV-monitoring platform Grabien, tweeted Omar’s CNN interview in which she clarified her original tweet, but still insisted she was saying Trump was blackmailing Graham over “his homosexuality.”
Rep. Omar: "Lots of Americans" agree with me that Trump is blackmailing Sen. Graham over his homosexuality pic.twitter.com/xPMAUHSLYE
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 17, 2019
For the record, Graham has previously stated he’s not gay.
But after Elliott’s tweet, right-wingers everywhere crawled out of the woodwork. And tweeted.
Rep Ilhan insinuates Graham is gay to undermine him, which is grossly homophobic (and without evidence)
The obvious double standard apparent in the anchors’ delicate approach to Ilhan is disgraceful
Imagine CNN’s tone if a white male GOP-er said this stuff of a Dem… https://t.co/dnDqOlAGZU
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) January 17, 2019
And then tweeted some more:
Just imagine if this were an evangelical Republican saying this on television about a Democrat’s sexual proclivities… https://t.co/UJdNmHjL71
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) January 17, 2019
The best part about this clip is that it begins with Omar offering some unobjectionable bromide about "inclusive societies." https://t.co/gHW6hYWt6P
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 17, 2019
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) January 17, 2019
a sitting member of congress publicly theorizing, with ZERO basis, that senator lindsay graham is secretly gay and trump is blackmailing him for being gay. watch this video and tell me she doesn't sound like a kook. https://t.co/lIKLXWlntb
— Pardes Seleh (@PardesSeleh) January 17, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen, the new Congress: https://t.co/ctIFbiK4mM
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 17, 2019
Again, she's got a right to say whatever she wants. But if a REPUBLICAN congressman engaged in this sort of ugly conspiracy talk & character assassination, the media would tar & feather that Republican. https://t.co/LawTZGN6x1
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) January 17, 2019
WTH is wrong with this woman. This is reprehensible.
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) January 17, 2019
One has to wonder how hard right-wingers work to reach this level of stupidity.
And a clearly frustrated Omar is fighting back. On Twitter she’s calling out the right-wingers for their own hypocrisy, USA Today reports.
I love how revealing the Right is in their assumptions of me.
Pro-tip- just because you are homophobic, doesn’t mean everyone else is.
Deal with your own bigotry and Islamophobic views of me, and stop with the hateful smears. pic.twitter.com/vWtEmI72n2
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 17, 2019
In another tweet, she castigated right-wingers for characterizing her as homophobic “because the Right thinks being homosexual is ‘compromising.'”
“Well I have news for them,” she tweeted, “being LGBTQ+ isn’t something we should be ashamed of. Y’all know my tweet had nothing to do with his sexuality and everything to do with his blind cooperation w/Trump. Let’s focus!”
Yes, because the Right thinks being homosexual is “compromising”.
Well I have news for them, being LGBTQ+ isn’t something we should be ashamed of!
Y’all know my tweet had nothing to do with his sexuality and everything to do with his blind cooperation w/ Trump.
Let’s focus! https://t.co/6FSvjnm8xi
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 17, 2019
Other media figures also pushed back in support of Omar, albeit with gentle reprimands for stating an opinion without supporting evidence.
I don’t like a Member of Congress giving an accusatory opinion about a Senator w/o evidence.
That said, tweet below’s false. Period. The quote is fabricated. It’s not what she said. Many will believe the tweet, buy the lie, & not take time to watch the video. Don’t fall for it. https://t.co/COL9ORaoxZ
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) January 17, 2019
— Nicole Goodkind (@NicoleGoodkind) January 17, 2019
This tweet is a straight up lie. I think she’s making a claim about blackmail that she can’t back up and thus shld not make. But she makes zero mention of Graham’s personal life. This tweet is a straight up lie. https://t.co/Zwwvf4X14Q
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 17, 2019
Watch the video below to find out what Omar actually said.