Imran Awan coverage betrays media bias
A week has passed since the arrest of former House staffer Imran Awan, and the establishment media have given the event only superficial coverage. Awan, a Pakistani immigrant, was formerly employed by more than 30 House Democrats as an I.T. technician. Most members fired him following the announcement in February of an FBI probe into his potentially criminal behavior during his tenure as a Hill staffer. However, he remained an employee of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's D.C. office until he was arrested last Monday while attempting to flee to Pakistan.
News of Awan's arrest first broke on Fox News the morning after he was apprehended, while CNN, NBC, and ABC took more than a day to cover the story.
Thus far, CNN's only on-air acknowledgement of the controversy surrounding Awan has been an early-morning segment, running just under four minutes, in which Jake Tapper and Tom Foreman emphasized that Awan had been arrested only for bank fraud, and Foreman dismissed all other allegations against Awan as conspiracy theories.
The New York Times waited until Friday. Times writer Nicholas Fandos briefly discussed a smattering of allegations that prominent conservative media figures have leveled against Awan. Their concerns are presented devoid of any context and are clearly intended to be read as unhinged conspiracy theories. Indeed, Fandos uses the term "conspiracy theory" more than once and concludes that it is "hard to say" whether the whole narrative is "an overblown Washington story, typical of midsummer."
The media establishment's refusal to discuss the details of Awan's past evidences their continued dedication to shielding the Democratic party from scandal. In discussing only the accusations leveled by conservative media and President Trump, while making no mention of the very real ongoing criminal investigation into Awan, CNN and the Times are attempting to shepherd their audience away from the story.
Unmentioned key facts about Awan and his family include:
- Awan was banned from accessing the House network in early 2017. He is under investigation for stealing House equipment and "committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network."
- A House I.T. staffer has alleged that Awan used congressional computers to transfer data to an off-site server.
- Awan could view every email sent and received by the members who employed him and had complete access to staff computers.
- Rather than firing Awan, Wasserman Schultz promoted him to an "advisory role." Spokesman David Damron explained that Awan would be "providing advice on technology issues," though it is unclear how he was expected to do so without being able to access the House network. Damron's statement contradicts the claim by the Times that Awan's duties were "mostly run of the mill: setting up new phones and computers, fixing printers, helping aides and members reset passwords."
- Awan's salary was unusually high for a House I.T. staffer. According to public records, Awan has collected $1.5 million since 2010 and $2 million since he began on the Hill.
- When the criminal probe was made public, Awan vacated his home in Virginia and began renting it to military families. A Marine renting the house found a stash of smashed hard drives. After the Marine turned the material over to federal officials, Awan attempted to enter the house several times and eventually threatened to sue the Marine for stealing his property.
- In an interview with the Daily Caller, Pat Sowers, a House I.T. staffer, speculated that the Awans were extorting the members employing them. "I don't know what they have," he said, "but they have something on someone."
- Sowers isn't the only person to accuse Awan and his brothers of blackmail. Imran's stepmother has filed court documents in which she accuses him of surveilling and extorting her.
The above facts suggest that Awan's criminal behavior goes far beyond financial scams. CNN's Jake Tapper disingenuously points to the absence of other charges as proof of Awan's innocence, but one should expect no charges to be brought until the criminal investigation is concluded. The establishment media will remain silent on this matter as long as they possibly can, but if charges are announced in the future, expect them to shift their defense from Awan to the Democrats who employed him.