According to Steven Emerson's web site he is, "one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks and financing operations." In addition he, "frequently provides briefings to U.S. government and law enforcement agencies, members of congress, and congressional committees."
Hey, he certainly appears to be the go to guy when it comes to background and intel on Islamist terror groups doesn't he?
Yesterday Emerson sounded the alarm on the creeping Islamic threat in Europe and Britain. He appeared on Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show informing both her and the viewing audience that Birmingham, England is "totally Muslim," and a place, "non Muslims just simply don't go in." It didn't stop there. He claimed there were certain areas of London where Islamic police roamed the streets beating anyone who, "didn't dress according to religious Muslim attire."
Ms. Pirro responded to the shocking revelation by saying, "You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a Caliphate within a particular country."
Holy Shiite! What the hell is going on over there? No doubt many a fan of Fox immediately took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to spread the word of this insidious take over of England's second largest city and British society altogether.
Unfortunately for Fox and Brother Emerson there are people who actually live in the United Kingdom who watched the broadcast. David Cameron, the British prime minister, was one of them. His initial reaction to the report was, "This guy is clearly a complete idiot."
Who can blame him for coming to such a blunt conclusion? The latest census of Birmingham, a city of 1.1 million people, showed the population was 22% Muslim. You don't have to be much of a math whiz to run the numbers. Simply subtract 22 from 100 and you'll see that 78% of everyone else in town isn't a Muslim.
This isn't the first time Steve Emerson has riled up the right wing fringe with tales of Islamic treachery. After the Boston Marathon bombing he told Fox News host, Sean Hannity government sources had assured him a Saudi national was involved in the plot. Within hours fellow traveler, Glenn Beck, a guy so crazy even Fox got rid of him, was claiming on his radio show the Obama administration had whisked the alleged criminal out of the country on the sly at the behest of the Saudi government.
Not one bit of it was true, but it made for great radio and fed that ever hungry conspiracy theory beast.
The entire transcript of the informative little chat with Pirro is still on Emerson's web site, although he prefaces it with an extended apology to the, "beautiful city of Birmingham." It remains unclear how he knows if Birmingham is beautiful, or not since the silly son of a bitch has obviously never been there. He also says he will make a donation to the town's children's hospital.
Yes, that is all fine and good, however there is still a problem here in the states. The vast majority of the people who saw his assessment of both Birmingham and London will never see the apology. They will go their merry way claiming vast portions of the UK are either forbidden to non Muslims, or are too dangerous to enter unless you're a crazed member of al-Qaeda. They will, in fact, end up being carted away to their graves believing it.
It has happened before. Prior to Barack H. Obama winning his first term in the White House, Fox News reported he received some of his early education from a radical Islamist madrasa in Indonesia. The whole "radical Islamist madrasa" part of the story, which is what they wanted to stay with you, was utter bullshit. To this day I know people who still believe the report was accurate.
So there, in a nutshell, is the nature of journalism in the 21st century. There is red news and blue news and never shall the twain meet.
As for fact checking? Well that part of the profession, as we saw yesterday, has gone the way of the Dodo.
Somewhere in the chilly burg of Oklahoma City my high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Ward, is weeping.