Liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank
"grossly misrepresented" an exchange at an event at The Heritage Foundation in a column he published alleging that a woman who was wearing an Islamic head covering was "taunted" during a discussion about Benghazi, Politico's Dylan Byer said.
On his blog,
Byers said that the video of the panel discussion "disproves or casts doubt" on several of Milbank's assertions about the way the American University law student was treated when she pointed out that no Muslims were represented in the discussion and questioned why Islam was being portrayed in a negative light.
"The woman in question, Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, does not seem to have been 'taunted.' Both panelists who responded to her accepted the premise of her question entirely. One of them — Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and CEO of ACT! for America — strongly rebutted Ahmed's concerns, but never dismissed her right to ask the question," Byers wrote.
Byers said one panelist thanked Ahmed for her question and largely accepted the premise of her statement, something Milbank omitted, instead focusing on comments from Gabriel, which he also mischaracterized.
Byers also disputes a number of other assertions Milbank made in the way he portrayed the event, saying the video footage proves that Ahmed was not attacked, dismissed, or taunted.
"In fact, it's worth noting that Ahmed didn't appear at all troubled or upset at the end of the exchange," Byers wrote.
He pointed out that The Heritage Foundation also disputed Milbank's version of events and said the journalist "mischaracterized" the tone of the discussion.
"During the first panel, a question from the audience started a passionate discussion that included much agreement by panelists and the questioner on the need for open dialogue. While the exchange has been mischaracterized by some, the questioner received supportive applause after the discussion concluded," Wesley Denton, a Heritage spokesman, said, according to Byers.
Denton added, "Heritage encourages open debate and wants everyone on our premises to feel welcome and treated with respect."
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