The media has promoted yet another piece of fake news that just so happens to work against the Republican administration. According to a number of outlets, a Muslim Olympic fencer was detained as a result of President Donald Trump's executive order. But it simply wasn't true.
Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad claimed in a recent interview that she "was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago."
"I don't know why," Muhammad said. "I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you."
The Olympian added, "Unfortunately, I know that people talk about this having a lot to do with these seven countries in particular, but I think the net is cast a little bit wider than we know. And I'm included in that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab."
Naturally, the media pounced on this and declared that Muhammad was unfairly detained as a result of Trump's executive order limiting immigration and refugees from seven Muslim countries.
There was just one problem: Muhammad admitted on Twitter that the incident she described occurred in December, back when Barack Obama was still president. It goes without saying then that her being detained – if she was detained at all – had nothing to do with Trump's executive order.
T. Becket Adams excoriated both the media and Muhammad in the Washington Examiner:
First, it's mind-boggling that no one in that room on Feb. 7 thought to ask her for the exact date on which she was reportedly detained. It's a basic duty of journalism to get the who, what, where, when, why and how to every story. That Muhammad's interviewers didn't think to pursue the "when" is astounding.
Secondly, Muhammad isn't blameless in all of this. A less-than-charitable person would suspect her of being purposefully vague and imprecise. She was asked a simple "yes or no" question about the president's immigration order. Instead of giving a simple answer, she provided an anecdote involving the very misleading use of "just a few weeks ago."
It does certainly appear in Muhammad's anecdote as if she was blaming her detention on Trump's executive order, and as Adams noted, the lack of a follow-up question as to what Muhammad meant exactly by "a few weeks" suggests that the media was too eager to advance their ideological narrative instead of getting the facts straight.
Muhammad gained notoriety over the summer for winning the gold medal in the Olympics as a female Muslim fencer; using her fame to promulgate narratives of Islamophobia. It appears that Muhammad did the same thing when framing her story of being detained as if it were the result of Trump's executive order, and the media was more than willing to go along with it.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.
Top image: (L-R) Dolores Huerta, tv personality Chelsea Handler and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad speak onstage during Glamour Women Of The Year 2016 at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.