A rather disturbing event occurred in a Minnesota library last Sunday: Freshman Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler, while implying that the White House was involved in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
Didn’t hear about this? Well, how could you? After all, no major, mainstream media outlet other than Fox News and CNN thought it was newsworthy.
*****Critical Update: video available here.
Is the press silence due to Ellison being a Democrat, or because he is the first Muslim member of Congress?
On comparing Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany: "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."
The next day, the Republican Party of Minnesota released the following statement:
"Keith Ellison's despicable comments likening President Bush to Adolf Hitler need to be immediately repudiated by all Democrats in Minnesota. To compare the democratically elected leader of the United States of America to Hitler is an absolute moral outrage which trivializes the horrors of Nazi Germany."
Memeorandum reported the Star Tribune article Monday, while displaying coverage from well-known blogs like Captain’s Quarters, Little Green Footballs, All Things Beautiful, and Hot Air. And, Power Line did a rather lengthy piece about Ellison and these revelations on Tuesday.
Yet, until the following segment during Thursday’s “Grapevine” on Fox News’ “Special Report with Brit Hume,” no major mainstream media outlet cared:
HUME: And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from the Political Grapevine.
Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of the House, says Bush administration actions following 9-11 remind him of the way Adolf Hitler's government expanded his power after the burning of Berlin's Reichstag--that was the parliament building--in 1933.
Ellison told a gathering of atheists recently "It's almost like the fire, kind of remind me of that. After it was burned they blamed the communists for it, and then put the leader of that country, that would be Hitler, in a position where he could, basically, have the authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is I'm not saying that September 11th was a U.S. plan, or anything like that, because you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box, dismiss you."
Ellison later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that examples of Bush administration actions fitting his Nazi parallel include the Iraq war, certain provisions of the Patriot Act, and the commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence.
Interestingly, about an hour later, CNN also reported this incident during the 4PM EST installment of “The Situation Room.” Pay particular attention to the lengths host Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Keith Oppenheim go to excuse Ellison’s comments:
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: A man of faith speaks to a group of atheists and reportedly compares the 9/11 attacks to a pivotal event concerning Nazi Germany -- Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to the House of Representatives, also blasting Vice President Dick Cheney.
Our national correspondent, Keith Oppenheim, is joining us now from Chicago.
This is causing a little bit of a stir out there. What exactly did he say? What's going on?
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Wolf, some of the themes that Keith Ellison is talking about are themes that he has been sounding off on for a while.
For example, when I interviewed Keith Ellison last fall, just a week before he was elected, he used fairly edgy rhetoric in his condemnation of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: We're no longer fighting a war there. What we have now is an occupation. And I'm for ending the occupation.
OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Keith Ellison used similar language last Sunday, when he spoke to Atheists for Human Rights, a Minneapolis- based group that invited him to a forum. We confirmed with Ellison's office that he has recently signed onto a resolution offered by Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich calling for Vice President Dick Cheney's impeachment.
"The Minneapolis Star-Tribune" quoting Ellison at the forum as saying this about the vice president: "It is beneath his dignity in order for him to answer any questions from the citizens of the United States. That is the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and dictatorship."
In response to a question as to whether Ellison supports a new investigation into the causes of the September 11, Ellison made a comparison to the Reichstag fire in Berlin that Adolf Hitler used to consolidate power.
Ellison said: "After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the communists for it. And it put the leader of that country in a position where he basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is, I'm not saying September 11 was a U.S. plan or anything like that, because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box, dismiss you."
OPPENHEIM: We called the congressman's office, and his communications director did not dismiss these quotes. He said that they were accurate.
And, to be clear, Wolf, Keith Ellison is not saying that September 11 was pre-planned by the government or the Bush administration, more that the tragedy, in his view, has been used in a manipulative way to further policies and legislation.
Furthermore, the conservative columnist for "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune" Katherine Kersten blasted Ellison in a recent column, saying that any comparison between the actions of the Bush administration and the Nazis is inappropriate -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot of lawmakers are avoiding those kinds of comparisons. He's a freshman congressman. I guess he will learn from making those kind of comparisons.
But I just want to be precise. He's not alluding, he's not suggesting that this was all some sort of U.S. conspiracy, 9/11? I want to be clear that that's not what he's suggesting.
OPPENHEIM: No, he was not saying that. He was making the comparison to the Reichstag, in his view, because he was saying that a tragedy was used in a manipulative way. And that's where the comparison ends.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to invite him to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Congressman Ellison. And he will elaborate and explain exactly what he meant.
That’s a lot of water for these two supposed journalists to carry in order to excuse a sitting Congressman for comparing the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler, wouldn’t you agree?
In fact, even the British Telegraph, in an article published Saturday, wasn’t as charitable as Blitzer and Oppenheim (emphasis added):
America's first Muslim congressman has provoked outrage by apparently comparing President George W Bush to Adolf Hitler and hinting that he might have been responsible for the September 11 attacks.
Addressing a gathering of atheists in his home state of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, a Democrat, compared the 9/11 atrocities to the destruction of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1933. This was probably burned down by the Nazis in order to justify Hitler's later seizure of emergency powers.
I guess British media don’t have to be so concerned with protecting Democrats from scrutiny. However, that certainly doesn’t explain why outside of these two reports by Fox News and CNN, American media thoroughly ignored Ellison’s remarks.
Or does it?