Amanda Seitz and Beatrice Dupuy purport to straighten out benighted conservatives on the curious case of Ilhan Omar in the current edition of the AP’s “NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week.” The lesson is delivered in this week’s edition of the AP’s “ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.”
Here is how the AP addresses the curious case (bolding added):
CLAIM: Marriage certificate proves Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was legally married to two men at the same time.
THE FACTS: Facebook posts are circulating a copy of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 2009 marriage certificate and falsely claiming the Minnesota congresswoman was legally married to two men at once. Questions about Omar’s marriages were revived online following a report from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that revealed she had filed joint tax returns with her second husband in 2014 and 2015, before they were married. Omar applied for a marriage license on Sept. 30, 2002, to wed her current husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, who she says at the time went by Ahmed Abdisalan Aden. The marriage was not legally finalized but the couple had two children together before ending their relationship in 2008 [Ed.: this should read “before ending their relationship in their faith tradition, according to Omar”]. Later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi on Feb. 12, 2009, according to a Hennepin County, Minnesota, marriage certificate. Omar told The Associated Press in an interview last year that her relationship with Elmi ended in 2011 but she did not filed [sic] for a divorce until six years later and the marriage was dissolved on Dec. 4, 2017, according to court records. Meanwhile, Hirisi [sic] and Omar had reunited, welcoming a third child in June 2012. Hirsi and Omar were legally married in Hennepin County on Jan. 5, 2018, records show. Conservative bloggers have made claims about Omar’s marriages, including that she was married to two men simultaneously, since she became a state representative in 2016. Omar was the first Somali-American woman elected to Congress last November.
It’s funny: the AP fails to note Omar’s own account of her (first) 2002 marriage to Aden/Hirsi “in her faith tradition.” The Star Tribune repeatedly asserts that Omar married Hirsi in 2002 “in her faith tradition” as though it is a settled fact. The AP simply omits it. The complication is too damn high!
When Omar’s “crisis committee” deliberated over how to respond to the question of plural marriages that we had raised in 2016, Omar crisis manager Ben Goldfarb struggled. Drawing on the crisis committee emails I posted in part 4 of my “Mixed-up files” series, we find Goldfarb’s confession at page 38:
[H]aving now tried to write a statement multiple times that says, “I’m not legally married to two people but I am legally married to one and culturally married to another”, I think it’s impossible without making it even more confusing. It just doesn’t work in writing.
Goldfarb could have used the services of Seitz and Dupuy. They have a thing or two to teach him about crisis management and public relations. Note their observation that Omar and Hirsi “welcomed” a third child in 2012 — under Minnesota law, a child presumed to be Elmi’s. What a beautiful touch.
Goldfarb found that the story he got from Omar in 2016 “just doesn’t work in writing.” However, the AP makes it work without breaking a sweat. I’m filing this under Thanks for Clearing That Up.