Amy Forliti is a reporter for the Associated Press in Minneapolis. She is a competent mainstream media journalist. Long after it could have had any bearing on Ilhan Omar’s election to Congress from Minnesota’s Fifth District in 2018 — i.e., long after the DFL primary — Forliti took a detailed look at the story that Omar had married her brother in 2009 for some dishonest purpose and only recently went through the exercise of divorcing him. The story was “Minnesota House hopeful calls marriage, fraud claims ‘lies.’” Omar actually called the claims “disgusting lies.”
Omar refused to be interviewed by the AP for the story. Omar further refused “to provide the AP with a list of her siblings[.]” Indeed, Omar refused to facilitate the AP’s investigation of the claims in any way. Attempts to communicate with Omar’s ex-husband, now in London, also proved unavailing (“The AP’s efforts to speak with Elmi were unsuccessful”). Forliti’s experience reflects Omar’s public relations strategy since I first began writing about the story in 2016.
Without explicitly saying so, Forliti’s AP story retraced the steps Preya Samsundar and I took to look into the claims in 2016. I think that Forliti’s story left the claims roughly where Preya and I left them, though Forliti’s story carried the imprimatur of a mainstream media organization. The Star Tribune encountered essentially the same hurdles to its investigation of the story in June 2019.
Forliti now turns to the news of Omar’s remarriage for the AP in “Omar marries political consultant, months after affair claim.” The link is to the story as posted by the Star Tribune, with comments. The story is posted by the AP here.
Though brief, Forliti’s AP story is superior to the Star Tribune story by Ryan Faircloth (discussed here yesterday). Forliti concludes her story: “Omar has been dogged by questions about her personal life since she first ran for state representative in 2016, with conservatives alleging she was married to Hirsi and another man at once, and that the other man was her brother. She has called those claims ‘disgusting lies.'”
Forliti omits any mention of her own contribution to examination of “the questions” and of her inability to resolve them in Omar’s favor. Forliti’s story is nevertheless respectable, while Faircloth’s story is more or less pitiful.
With the local angle and the resources at its disposal, the Star Tribune should own Omar’s saga. Yet the opposite is closer to the case. The Star Tribune resists competent coverage of Omar and continues to disserve its core Fifth District DFL readership.
One wonders what it might take to embarrass the Star Tribune. Whatever the answer, the bar is set incredibly high.