Here’s one version of a story making headlines in conservative media over the past couple of weeks: A powerful Democratic congresswoman refuses to fire an information technology aide after he’s accused of stealing House computer equipment and potentially breaching security protocols. Six months later, the FBI arrests him as he’s boarding a flight to Pakistan and charges him with bank fraud.
Here’s another version of the same topic, coming from Democratic lawmakers: Powerful Democratic congresswoman protects Muslim IT staffer from what she suspects is religious discrimination. She fires him after he is charged with a seemingly unrelated crime.
The case involving now-fired House Democratic information technology staffer Imran Awan and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) underscores how easy it is to manipulate facts to suit one’s political leaning.
The story has blown up on the right, with conservative website Daily Caller writing more than two dozen stories about it and Fox News hosts linking it, without any evidence, to the Russian WikiLeaks hack of DNC emails, which happened under Wasserman Schultz’s tenure as chairwoman.
President Trump poured gasoline on the story when he retweeted a conservative site describing the “scandal engulfing” Wasserman Schultz and accusing the media of ignoring it.
Mainstream media outlets have covered the story, but not extensively. The Washington Post has published two articles: One reporting Awan’s arrest and the other about a watchdog groupseeking an investigation.
Left-leaning sites have either stayed away from it or defended Wasserman Schultz’s account of it.
The congresswoman says conservatives are making a big deal of this to distract from the much more real Russia investigation. “Undoubtedly, the easier path would have been to terminate Mr. Awan, despite the fact that I had not received any evidence of his alleged wrongdoing,” she said in a statement issued last week, “but that is not the woman my constituents elected, and that is not the mother my children know me to be.”
Clearly, there are a lot of political accusations tied up in this nuanced story.