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Attack on Heritage Blows Up on WaPo’s Milbank

Attack on Heritage Blows Up on WaPo’s Milbank

Video shows an exchange during a panel discussion on Benghazi was not quite as the columnist described.

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who has an increasing reputation as a shill for the left wing, viciously attacked the Heritage Foundation in a column on Monday evening. The column, “Heritage’s ugly Benghazi panel” characterized the event as though it were a full-throated, Muslim-bashing hate-crime cleverly disguised as a public forum to discuss the Benghazi attack.

What began as a session purportedly about “unanswered questions” surrounding the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.

[…]  Then Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, stood in the back of the room and asked a question in a soft voice. “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” she told them. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.”

Panelist Brigitte Gabriel of a group called ACT! for America pounced. She said “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.” She told Ahmed that the “peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and she drew a Hitler comparison: “Most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million died.”

“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.”

“Where are the others speaking out?” Ahmed was asked. This drew an extended standing ovation from the nearly 150 people in the room, complete with cheers.

The panel’s moderator, conservative radio host Chris Plante, grinned and joined in the assault. “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” he demanded of Ahmed.

“Yeah,” audience members taunted, “yeah.”

Ahmed answered quietly, as before. “I guess it’s me right now,” she said.

Milbank’s account seemed to suggest an anti-Muslim witch hunt with one lone innocent standing at the back braving the torrent of hate.

Except it wasn’t true.

Milbank’s story was immediately challenged by those who know him best — fellow political reporters in Washington, DC.

Mollie Hemingway dissects Milbank’s account versus the video excerpts first released by, ironically, Media Matters for America — the famed leftist attack “media watchdog” group.

Dana Milbank is a columnist for the Washington Post who serially exaggerates or distorts what he writes about. It’s just what he does. This has been established so many times by so many people that it’s disappointing to see he is still given prominent perch in his paper and that people who made it past their sophomore year in high school take him seriously. My contribution to the cataloguing of his hackery is “Dana Milbank Is Incoherent On Marriage,” which shows how he just made stuff up when covering a panel of women at the Heritage Foundation.

[…] 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. I mean, was everything quoted in his piece accurate? Absolutely. Were his words or description of what transpired accurate? Hell no.

[…]  If you listen to the panelist [Brigitte Gabriel], you can tell that this American woman has a thick accent. She’s from Lebanon. In Milbank’s world, she’s just described as “of a group called ACT! for America” before this section is introduced. She’s not described as an immigrant who assumes the Muslim woman is also American and who is asking for the purpose of making sure her use of the first person plural is correct.

Also, her point is completely covered up by Milbank, who has a history of treating non-liberal women he covers with disdain. (Seriously, it’s a problem. It should be condemned by his colleagues.) Her point is that the four dead Americans in Benghazi are more important than politically correct speech that coddles and infantilizes citizens. It’s not a bad point. It would be a good one for Milbank and his ilk to heed. In fact, the Muslim woman concedes the point in her follow-up.

Here is the key exchange that Milbank characterized as the anti-Muslim attack. Maybe he was at a different forum than the camera which recorded it.

Dylan Byers from POLITICO methodically destroyed what he called “Milbank’s Heritage disaster.

And by mid-afternoon Tuesday, Milbank’s entire story was given last rites as none other than BuzzFeed called him out using their typically photo-filled reporting style.

The Washington Post’s report that a Heritage Foundation panel reacted in an ugly way to a question about peaceful Muslims failed to pan out after video of the event surfaced.

When you’ve lost BuzzFeed, you’ve lost the narrative.

The full video of the entire Heritage event, which includes the panel in question (there were multiple sessions), can be seen below.


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Except Gabrielle did not address the crux of the question. The woman asked primarily about ways to combat radical Islam through trying to change their ideology in addition to the military effort. I am personally skeptical that it is possible for America to change their ideology, but it is not an irrelevant question. Gabrielle made it seem like her question about her statement that there are a lot of reasonable Muslims who could be approached.

I don’t agree with the questioner, but I don’t think Gabrielle was even decent in her response. Gaffney was, but Gabrielle was obnoxious and offensive and misleading. I’ve been to Act events before, and can say that–as with all groups–there are plenty of good people there, but there are also a lot of crazies and, yes, bigots. And Gabrielle seems to pander to that group at times.

    MarkS in reply to WTell. | June 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Grabrielle was direct and to the point. Forever we’ve been told that the “great majority” of Muslims are peace loving, yet one is hard pressed to find any “peaceful” Muslim condemn the actions of the extremists from 9-11 to the leader of Boko Haram announcing to the world that Allah told him to sell those kidnapped Nigerian girls. The silence, as they say, is deafening which could lead one to the conclusion that the extremists Muslims are the mainstream.

      McAllister in reply to MarkS. | June 18, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Exactly right. Not a peep out of all those mullahs. If Muslims here in the U.S. don’t like being criticized and looked badly upon, then they should start speaking out against the radical Islamists. If they don’t then they deserve the bad rap they get.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MarkS. | June 18, 2014 at 2:46 am

      Yep. In terms of vocalness or notoriety, “moderate” muzzies are non-existent.

      The suggestion of their presence on our earthly orb is less believable than the stories about Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster, although no other similarities exist. Biggie and Nessie aren’t bloodthirsty killers.

      JohnC in reply to MarkS. | June 18, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Something I heard a long time ago-

      Radical Muslims are snakes and Moderate Muslims are the grass.

      ConradCA in reply to MarkS. | June 20, 2014 at 3:07 am

      The Muslim religion is not a religion of peace it is a religion of war and the peace will only come when Islam has conquered the whole world.

      The big Mo told the faithful to spread the faith by the sword of conquest. The “peaceful” Muslims are the apostates. While the terrorists are the true Muslims. That is why the “peaceful” Muslims don’t oppose the terrorists.

    IrateNate in reply to WTell. | June 17, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I respectfully disagree with your criticism of Ms. Gabriel’s response. After reading your reply twice, I can only surmise that you didn’t understand the point she so strongly made in response to the student’s question.

    The so-called peaceful Muslims, remaining silent while 15 – 20% of the “faithful” make it their mission in life to kill or convert the entire planet’s population, must be addressed.

    Guilt by complicity is just as damning as those who perform the beheading. How can we expect the jihadist to abandon his ideology when the majority of Muslims refuse to condemn them?

    If anyone seemed “offensive and misleading” it was the student, asking her question in a manner which implied that the panel was attacking the 80% of the Muslim population, rather than admitting the insanity of the 20%.

    Arminius in reply to WTell. | June 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    If you’re looking for an excuse to take offense, then Gabrielle wasn’t decent. She responded to the notion that Saba raised that the panel was smearing Islam and all Muslims. I don’t see why she was obligated to let that go and instead focus on what you consider to be the crux of the question.

    Speaking of smears, thanks for assuring us that despite the fact that the video didn’t back up Dana Milbank’s attempt to smear the panelists and audience as bigots, crazies, xenophobes, and Islamophobes, based upon your personal experience these people really are everything Milbank accuses them of being.

    I will take that for what it’s worth. All that other stuff that wasn’t videotaped, that you witnessed, would have supported Milbank’s account. They just got away with it this time. Milbank’s report was “fake but accurate,” as Dan Rather would say.

      Yes, Arminius. Presumption of guilt means you can convict Gabriel & the whole conservative movement because they MUST be guilty cuz they don’t think like you!

      You, Arminius are a fascist.

        I think you should read Arminius’ reply to WTell again.

          creeper in reply to Amy in FL. | June 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

          I’ve read it four times and I still can figure out what point he’s making.

          creeper in reply to Amy in FL. | June 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

          “can” = “can’T”

          Archer in reply to Amy in FL. | June 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm


          Arminius starts out by stating that people who are looking to be offended will find something that offends them. Saba Ahmed made a point, Brigitte Gabriel responded to it, but because Ahmed was subtly accusing the panel of smearing all Muslims, WTell (and Dana Milbank) are implying that she should have gone unchallenged. Any reply from the panel could be taken as an insult – especially by someone who wants to be insulted/outraged (someone who “has a chip on his shoulder”) – but the original comment was an accusation that deserved a response.

          As for the rest, WTell is taking Milbank’s account at its face, and Arminius is pointing out that the video just doesn’t support it and that WTell’s personal experience (subjective, at best) doesn’t overrule objective fact.

        Arminius in reply to daveinboca. | June 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        I really didn’t think my point was very difficult to grasp, considering how quickly and thoroughly Amy and Archer understood it.

        Arminius in reply to daveinboca. | June 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm

        I’ve got to ask, daveinboca, how you arrived at the conclusion I was trying to convict the conservative movement when I was clearly objecting to “Dana Milbank’s attempt to smear” the conservative movement as represented by the panelists and audience?

    Archer in reply to WTell. | June 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    To draw another analogy besides those already presented, consider this:

    “Extremist” Muslims are to “Moderate” Muslims, as the KKK is to Moderate Christians

    The difference is that moderate Christians actively and publicly speak out and work against the KKK. The KKK is a vocal and aggressive minority of Christians that lost most of its fervor and credibility when the “silent majority” of fellow Christians opted to not be so silent. Their ideology may or may not have changed, but their methods sure have.

    If the Muslim population is 85-90% “moderate” and “peaceful,” why the heck are the “extremist” 10-15% being allowed to drive the narrative and present the public face of the religion?

    Gabrielle was much kinder than she needed to be. What needs to be said is that Muslims like the hijab clad questioner are only talking about the 1.8 billion Muslims who don’t support terrorism because those who as the question are asking an irrelevant question and they are asking it to deflect from the fact that most Muslims support terrorism and jihad, but don’t want to go on record publically. Clearly that woman supports jihad, Muslim terrorism, and sharia. And she wears a hijab, which is proof enough that she is sympathetic to the terrorists. Note that she never condemned Muslim terrorism, but condemned a lie, that most in the West think most Muslims support terrorism. But the truth is most do. Muslims who don’t support terrorism and sharia are a minority.

      “And she wears a hijab, which is proof enough that she is sympathetic to the terrorists.”

      Remember when Lefties said that Sarah Palin wearing a white blouse was proof enough that she was sympathetic to the KKK?

      Palin is wearing white again, inciting the racist crowds. She should just drop all pretense and put on her white hood and light up a cross. She is a despicable human being.”

      Just sayin’.

        ConradCA in reply to Amy in FL. | June 20, 2014 at 3:13 am

        A hijab is like the sheets worn by the KKK.

        The Muslim religion does not require that women wear a hajib.

Spiny Norman | June 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

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. I mean, was everything quoted in his piece accurate? Absolutely. Were his words or description of what transpired accurate? Hell no.

Didn’t Michael Moore make himself a multi-millionaire by doing precisely the same thing?

While this is an interesting story no one should be surprised by Milbank’s or anyone from the Washington Post pulling off a stunt like this.

Background on the provocateur who asked the questions:

Milbank got taken by a con artist.

Some interesting background on the woman who asked the question. Serial fabulist and propagandist for the left and radical Islam…

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Crawford. | June 18, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Thanks for the link. Most interesting.

    This isn’t the first. Milbank seems to be serially infatuated with nutburgers, malcontents, and abject liars.

Dana Milbank used to be a reporter at the Washington Post, and readers complained that his stories were full of his opinion, so he got moved to a role as editorial writer, or columnist. So this incident comes as no surprise to me, and all I have to say is, “Nice catch,” and “about damn time.”

Milbank is a scheming impostor who puts on kneepads whenever he gets near an Obama insider. He writes hit jobs like the above to score points with Heritage haters like the typical fanatic left-wingers in the WH press corps. He hears dog whistles because of his canine pedigree.

Doug Wright Old Grouchy | June 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

The example of what happened at the Heritage Panel and discussion is but one small example of why the internet is so darned important for those who value truth and accurate reporting.

I do recall Uncle Walter Cronkite declaring that the Tet Offensive meant the USA had lost that Vietnam war! There was nothing publicly to dispute Uncle Walter and many of us stateside folks seemed to accept that “fact!” Years later it became known that Walter was a good Socialist, apparently always had been, and even today is revered by his friends in the MSM!

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Doug Wright Old Grouchy. | June 18, 2014 at 3:34 am

    My dad despised Cronkite. I can’t remember how many times, during my early formative years, dad warned us, “Don’t ever listen to that sonofabitch. He’s G-ddamned liar!”.

    Pops called it. He knew how to roll.

There won’t be any consequences, of course, since he’s pushing the approved narrative.

Wasn’t that long ago he’d have already been fired.

pablo panadero | June 18, 2014 at 7:54 am

Since Jeff Bezos has owned the Washington Post for some time now and should now be well aware of Dana’s “jurno-list” style. My assumption is since he has not made any moves to discipline Dana on such transgressions, Jeff must approve or at least accept it. Therefore, I would encourage Legal Insurrection and other conservative blogs to suspend linking to Bezos’ other company, Amazon, until the Dana Milbank issue is fully addressed by Jeff Bezos. Take the high road, Professor Jacobson.

    HarrietHT in reply to pablo panadero. | June 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I totally agree with you, pablo.
    These multimillionaire CEOs seem determined to undermine the very system from which their power and influence were nurtured; and with their wealth, they become petit-dictators.
    When they breathe the purified air of the Progressive elite, they become mimics — assuming all the character defects particular to that sub-class of people.

freddygeorge | June 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm

This is a question for the professor, at what point does distortion of an exchange become libelous and actionable ?

Among the multitude of great, truth-telling comments from the panelists, this one stands out for me: We spared no expense to bring back a deserter but couldn’t summon the will to lift a finger to forestall an attack on our outpost in Benghazi, much less to return fire in order to rescue those being besieged at that outpost. A paraphrase of Gen. Boykin’s comments.

If it’s not yet clear to sentient Americans what is going on, and this example is but one of hundreds, with this administration’s foreign and domestic policies, let me state it for you:
This fundamental transformation of our country promised by Barack Obama is nothing less than the annihilation of America, the “idea” of America, and most particularly, America’s Constitution-loving people, that particular people, its culture, and its habits of being.
He IS the Trojan Horse.