Monica Crowley, who recently joined MSNBC as a contributor and analyst after eight years at FOX News Channel, misrepresented the findings of the 9-11 Commission in an effort to justify her support for a controversial national database that would track college students and maintain personal information about them, including Social Security numbers, credit hours accumulated and financial aid information.
Filling in for host Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, during an interview with MSNBC terrorism analyst Steve Emerson -- a former journalist who has received funding from right-wing financier Richard Mellon Scaife -- Crowley stated that "I do think there's a reason" to create the database, then falsely asserted that "the 9-11 report indicated that our colleges and universities may in fact be breeding grounds for terrorism, for terrorists and terrorist activity."
From the November 29 edition of Scarborough Country:
CROWLEY: Let me pick on that, because I do think that there is a reason. And let me go to Steve Emerson on this, because, Steve you've done some great work on terrorism. And I want to deal with the national security angle of this story with you. The 9-11 Commission -- and we just heard from Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton on this -- the 9-11 report indicated that our colleges and universities may in fact be breeding grounds for terrorism, for terrorists and terrorist activity. Have we seen terrorist recruiting on our campuses? What have you found?
But the comments of 9-11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton aired in video clips during the program made no mention of terrorist recruitment on college campuses:
KEAN: We know there's another attack coming. You and I can't say if it's next week or six months from now, but it's coming.
HAMILTON: There's isn't any doubt the hijackers used the state driver's licenses to get by a lot of checkpoints. So standards are important here.
And the 9-11 Commission Report offers no indication "that our colleges and universities may in fact be breeding grounds for terrorism, for terrorists and terrorist activity." A search of the report for the words "college," "campus," "university," or "breeding ground" reveals no part of the report that supports Crowley's characterization.
Nonetheless, Emerson responded by agreeing that "terrorists have recruited," but he offered no evidence to support Crowley's contention that recruitment has occurred on college campuses or that they may be "a breeding ground for terrorism." On August 5, Media Matters for America noted that Emerson was discredited in a 1999 Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting article that documented his checkered journalistic history:
A closer look at Emerson's career suggests his priority is not so much news as it is an unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims. ... 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. ... 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. ... "He's poison," says investigative author Seymour Hersh, when asked about how Emerson is perceived by fellow journalists. ... He has received funding from [right-wing financier Richard Mellon] Scaife.