MSNBC analyst singled out Pelosi's meeting with "radical" Islamic group; failed to mention Bush, Powell met with same organization


On the August 2 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, MSNBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson -- who has been discredited by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) -- stated that there are "radical groups that have met with Congress or that have been embraced by political officials, but that have a jihadist agenda," and singled out House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who met two weeks ago with representatives of the controversial group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and with leaders of other American Muslim groups.

What Emerson failed to mention is that on June 17, Secretary of State Colin Powell also met with CAIR executive director Nihad Awad, and other Muslim groups, according to Frank J. Gaffney Jr. in his June 22 Washington Times column. In addition, reported on September 26, 2001, that "[l]ess than a week after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush appeared at the Islamic Center in Washington, standing with various leaders of Muslim groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Council (AMC)." The American Muslim Political Coordinating Council Political Action Committee, of which the CAIR is a member, endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000.

From the August 2 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

EMERSON: As I look back on that [9-11 Commission] report now, having had the time to digest it, it did not deal at all with the whole issue of how these radical groups have hidden under false veneer, under charitable conduits, under -- quote -- "civil rights groups." It didn't deal with the political agenda here of radical groups that have met with Congress or that have been embraced by political officials, but that have a jihadist agenda.


SCARBOROUGH: Name some of those groups and what political officials are embracing them.

EMERSON: Well, for example, two weeks ago, the senior Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, had a meeting with several radical Islamic groups. And, of course, they contend that they were -- quote -- "civil rights groups," but they were jihadist groups.

SCARBOROUGH: Which groups?

EMERSON: The Council on American-Islamic Relations was the primary group that met with her. And it's a group that has had its seed money, some of it come from Saudi Arabia, as well as the Holy Land Foundation, which was indicted last week.

According to a 1999 FAIR report titled "Steve Emerson's Crusade," Emerson's "priority is not so much news as it is an unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims," and he has a history of peddling misinformation:

Emerson's willingness to push an extremely thin story--with potentially explosive consequences--is also consistent with the lengthy list of mistakes and distortions that mar his credentials as an expert on terrorism. ... A New York Times review (5/19/91) of his 1991 book Terrorist chided that it was "marred by factual errors...and by a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias." His 1994 PBS video, Jihad in America (11/94), was faulted for bigotry and misrepresentations -- veteran reporter Robert Friedman (The Nation, 5/15/95) accused Emerson of "creating mass hysteria against American Arabs. ... Emerson's most notorious gaffe was his claim that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing showed "a Middle Eastern trait" because it "was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible." (CBS News, 4/19/95) Afterward, news organizations appeared less interested in Emerson's pronouncements. A CBS contract expired and wasn't renewed. Emerson had been a regular source and occasional writer for the Washington Post; his name doesn't turn up once in Post archives after Jan. 1, 1996. USA Today mentioned Emerson a dozen times before September 1996, none after. "He's poison," says investigative author Seymour Hersh, when asked about how Emerson is perceived by fellow journalists."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Prewar Intelligence/WMD
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