In a week where much of the media was discredited for its abysmal reporting on the Boston bombing story, it’s now being noticed that a “terror expert” that Fox News resorted to for much of their analysis was a highly discredited pundit who has a history of smearing Muslims.
Emerson, a self-proclaimed “expert” on Islamic extremism, has a history of distorting facts, going back to his blundering analysis of the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995, where he expressed certainty that the attacks were the work of Islamic extremists, drawing dubious comparisons that he claimed were telltale signs of jihadists.
On April 16th, one day after the attacks in Boston, Emerson appeared on C-SPAN citing “classified information” that he claimed stated a “Saudi National” was fingered as a suspect because he had “the burns on his skin” that matched “the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded.”
Emerson was forced to later recant the reckless and farcical claims. But even in the wake of this, Fox News continued to host Emerson, and on April 17 he appeared on Fox’s Hannity where he invented the conspiracy theory that the same Saudi student he earlier fingered as a suspect was going to be deported “on national security grounds.”
Immediately, fringe conspiracy “news” sites like Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, World Net Daily, and others latched onto Emerson’s report to offer it as proof of the Obama administration’s intent “to cover up a possible Saudi connection to the Boston attack.”
According to Solange Uwimana of Media Matters, “the media treated Emerson as a credible expert despite his checkered history on terrorism issues. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) noted that immediately following the Oklahoma City bombing, Emerson claimed on CBS that the bombing had “a Middle Eastern trait” because it “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.” Emerson went even further, saying that Oklahoma City area is area is “one of the centers for Islamic radicalism outside the Middle East.”
In a 1999 report titled “Steve Emerson’s Crusade,” FAIR stated that Emerson’s “priority is not so much news as it is an unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims,” and he has a history of “pushing questionable stories.”
According to FAIR, when asked about how Emerson is perceived by fellow journalists, investigative author Seymour Hersh replied, “He’s poison.”
The Chicago chapter of the Council On American-Islamic Relations has accused Emerson of being a “liar” and his Investigative Project, which claims to be a “counter-terrorism investigative project,” of being “little more than an anti-Muslim propaganda mouth-piece.”
While other news outlets have shied away from relying on his so-called expertise, Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have been enthusiastic promoters of his anti-Islam rantings.”
Watch Steve Emerson on the Hannity show days after the Boston bombing.