‘Terrorism Expert’, the need for sarcastic quotation marks.

“Europe is finished,” at least according to a terror expert who appeared on Fox News last weekend. Cities are experiencing an increasing density of Muslims, with Sharia courts being set up, and religious police beating people who don’t conform to Muslim dress code. Non-Muslims don’t even dare to enter these no-go zones, turning these areas into basically different countries within countries. And one city tops it off:  Birmingham.

Steven Emerson isn’t exactly calling Birmingham a Caliphate – he has Fox News presenter Jeanine Pirro do that for him – but he is damn sure making it sound like one.

There were a few things that went through my mind when I watched this clip. But first and most importantly, just how does an award-winning journalist end up on television stating that a British city of almost 1.1 million inhabitants consists entirely of Muslims and is a no-go zone, “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in”?

To fact check I googled Birmingham – which I can assure you – was not a very time-consuming action.

According to a demography on Birmingham’s Wikipedia page a whopping 46,1% of its inhabitants were Christian in 2011. Now I know that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source, so I looked at where the demography came from – an extra minute of my time I’d say, probably less – the most recent official UK Census figures.

If Emerson or anyone in his team had invested a few minutes of their time, they would have found that just 21,6% of the population of Birmingham self-identified as Muslim. You’d expect that number to be a tad higher for a no-go zone for non-Muslims.

So, who exactly is this guy? And why was he chosen to speak on this topic?

Well, Fox introduced him as a terrorism analyst. He also wrote several books on the topic and is the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a think tank that he founded himself.

But he is also an expert who fucked up several times before.

Take the Boston bombings. Appearing on ‘Hannity,’ Emerson stated that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi national who was briefly named a “person of interest”, was to be deported by the  U.S. government “on national security grounds.”

“I just learned from my own sources that he is now going to be deported on national security grounds next Tuesday,” Emerson said. “This is the way things are done with Saudi Arabia, you don’t arrest their citizens, you deport them because they don’t want them to be embarrassed and that’s the way we appease them.”

Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi was exonerated, and wasn’t deported. Ouch.

Emerson also said that “the burns on his skin [Alharbi’s] match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded”. Basically, they found explosive residue of a bomb on the burns of a man who was injured by that very same bomb, and this in Emerson’s world qualified the man as a suspect.

Clearly he is not always as informed as he likes to believe.

Which brings me to my next point, why did he open his mouth on something he clearly had no knowledge of?

I don’t know, but I do care.

It’s astounding that this guy is considered an ‘expert’. I was completely blown away to find out he was a journalist, an award winning one at that. As a journalist he should have put his ducks in a row before quacking. He clearly didn’t. Which is why I am spending my precious exam preparation time doing it for him.

But what should worry us even more, is that the person interviewing Emerson didn’t once attempt to critically question any of his bold claims. Touted as an expert, Emerson’s wild claims and exaggerations were presented as truth to an estimated 700.000 Fox viewers during the weekend broadcast.

This isn’t journalism; this is dis-information. And by far not an isolated case, certainly not for Fox.

In all fairness to Emerson though, he did apologize, citing “incorrect sourcing … and sloppy research.” And he almost made it through the apology without offending anybody.

If only he hadn’t mentioned waterboarding. You would think that an American right-winger talking about terrorism would avoid that word. Maybe he missed the CIA torture report, due to “incorrect sourcing … and sloppy research.”


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