According to the media, not all grieving parents of fallen servicemen are created equal. Whether those parents are protected, defended and respected or ignored, dismissed and smeared depends on their political affiliation — and how useful they are to the “right” side.
Witness the tale of three parents that emerged during the course of the Republican and Democratic conventions. On the first evening of the Republican convention, Patricia Smith spoke lovingly about her son Sean, who was one of four Americans killed in the Islamic terror attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. She reminded the world of the kind of man Sean was — a decent, hardworking patriot who chose to serve his country in one of the most dangerous places on earth.
She then directed her wrath at Hillary Clinton, who, as secretary of state, was directly responsible for the security in Benghazi before and during the attack — and for what happened in its aftermath. Mrs. Smith again accused Mrs. Clinton of lying to her face as her son lay just feet away in a flag-draped casket: “In an email to her daughter shortly after the attack, Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism,” she said. “But when I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony, just days later, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible. Since then, I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead. I’m still waiting.”
Asked recently about Mrs. Smith’s charge, Mrs. Clinton insinuated that the “grieving” mother’s memory must have been faulty, as if her lies were Mrs. Smith’s fault.
Mrs. Smith delivered her remarks in prime time, but you’d never know it given the scant media attention paid to it. Some networks carried her speech live, others truncated it or carried other commentary, but there was little discussion about what she had said and what it meant for Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.
A week later, another grieving mother appeared in prime time at the Democratic convention. Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala paid tribute to their son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. Like Mrs. Smith, Mr. Khan also told us what a fine, brave, patriotic man Humayun was. But unlike Mrs. Smith, he attacked someone who had no responsibility for his son’s death: Donald Trump.
As a senator, Mrs. Clinton had voted for the Iraq war and refused to support the military surge that turned the war around, and as secretary of state, she supported President Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, which created the vacuum into which the Islamic State stepped, and failed to honor repeated requests for greater security in Benghazi, all while Mr. Trump was a private citizen.
But according to Mr. Khan, Mr. Trump is the villain: “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims,” he said. “He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.”
Another untruth. Rather than “ban Muslims” from entering the country, Mr. Trump proposes a temporary hold on those coming from nations “compromised” by Islamic terrorism and once the situation is in hand, thorough background checks on all immigrants coming from those areas.
Mr. Khan also wondered if Mr. Trump had “read the Constitution.” Never mind that the Constitution does not offer religious freedom protections to non-citizens and that as a matter of law and policy, we are not obligated to let anyone into the country.
Throughout his time in the spotlight, Mr. Khan parroted the media’s distortions, and they ate it up.
Three parents suffered the ultimate loss through similar experiences, yet one was largely marginalized while the others were celebrated. After their speeches, Mrs. Smith receded while the Khans were granted countless interviews to continue their anti-Trump barrage. A Media Research Center’s analysis showed that the Khans received more than 50 times more coverage from the three major broadcast networks than they gave to Mrs. Smith. And the coverage was predictably unfair: MSNBC described Mrs. Smith’s speech as “offensive” and Mr. Khan’s as ” memorable,” the Nation described her remarks as “a cynical exploitation of grief,” and a writer for GQ magazine said he’d like to “beat her to death.” Mrs. Smith described being “treated like dirt.”
When Mr. Trump defended himself, the media pounced again, suggesting that Mr. Trump was an anti-Islam bigot when he was trying — albeit undiplomatically — to fend off Mr. Khan’s political attacks and raise bigger issues about Islam’s treatment of women and the larger threat facing the West. The Khans then received another round of glowing coverage, while Mrs. Smith remained invisible.
The leftist activists disguised as “journalists” will do whatever it takes to advance their politics, even if it means using — or ignoring — the parents of fallen patriots. They have entered a new era of base dishonesty, which makes their hypocrisy more dangerous than ever.
• Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.