Fox 9 muckraker Tom Lyden has been one of the media bloodhounds tracking Ilhan Omar's messy personal history ever since her historic victory in the DFL primary for House District 60B earlier this month.
It was Lyden who pounced on a blog post that accused the 33-year-old Somali-American of bigamy and possible immigration fraud.
Since then he's been attempting to pick away at the scab of what he's reported as a "controversy." The latest controversy to grow out of the Ilhan Omar coverage is one of Lyden's own making.
"Feds looking into Ilhan Omar's marriages," read the headline on a story appearing on KMSP-TV's web site Monday.
The piece began:
"She may be relatively new to politics but Ilhan Omar has already mastered an invaluable skill: how to avoid a reporter's question.… But we aren't the only ones who still have questions about the two men the DFL-endorsed House candidate has called her husband, without divorcing either.'"
According to Lyden's story, Andrew Luger, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, had "asked the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to look into Ilhan Omar's marriages."
But Lyden's digging went from scoop to oops by the end of business Monday. Fox 9 has scrubbed the story from its site after serious doubts were raised about the report's veracity. Those doubts came from Andy Luger himself.
On Monday, Luger emailed Omar's attorney to put in writing what he'd apparently said earlier by phone. "[T]here is no truth to this report," Luger wrote, "and my office is not investigating, nor have we requested an investigation into Ms. Omar."
If that's the case, then who said the feds were focusing on Omar at Luger's behest, specifically because she's in "a position of public trust"?
Lyden can't say. He, too, has figured out how to avoid a reporter's question. In an email to City Pages he referred "all media communication" to Marian Davey, the station's news director. Davey was unavilable for comment Tuesday morning.
The closest reporter, director, and station have come to responding to the blowback was a follow-up story posted to the Fox 9 website last Monday. In the story, Lyden doesn't back away from his earlier report that the feds are onto Omar. Instead, he parses words, writing, "In fact, the Fox 9 report did not address Omar's immigration status, but said [Immigration & Customs] was investigating Omar's two separate marriages…"
He's contrasting this with Luger's letter, which talked about "the immigration status of Ms. Omar." It's semantic quibbling, and weaker than Luger's assertion that there is "no truth to [Lyden's] report." However truthful they believe it to be, Fox 9 has scrubbed Lyden's original story from its website, and is letting his follow-up do the talking.
According to Fox 9's website, the investigative reporter is "a few parts Sherlock Holmes and a few parts storyteller" and "there's nothing more he loves than the thrill of the chase."