Steve Emerson Gets It Wrong–Again

steve emersonBy now, many people have heard the story of the “Saudi national,” a young man who was injured at the Boston Marathon bombing–and then found himself being treated as a suspect. His apartment was searched while he was receiving medical treatment.

But why was he considered a suspect? It seems like the mere fact that he was Saudi Arabian was considered by investigators to be grounds for suspicion. But there appears to be more to it than that.

Enter “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson, who continues to make the media rounds despite a checkered history that most notably included the assessment that the mass casualties inflicted by the Oklahoma City bombing were “a Middle Eastern trait.”

The day after the Boston attack, Emerson appeared on C-SPAN‘s Washington Journal (4/16/13) with host Greta Wodele Brawner, where he appeared to claim responsibility for the investigation of the Saudi national:

EMERSON: On the Facebook page of the person of interest, there were interesting entries that showed an animus toward the United States. Again, he has not been convicted, but the burns on his skin match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded.

WODELE BRAWNER: Is this the Saudi national, or those two different people?

EMERSON: The Saudi national.

Emerson claimed that “we found the Facebook page of the person of interest last night before the FBI did.” The apparently incriminating evidence? “There were lots of pictures of his friends. Some of them showed anti-American animus, such as support for the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Emerson went on to claim that  “ball bearings are a highlight of…the jihadist type of suicide bombing in the Middle East.” As journalist Ali Gharib  (Open Zion, 4/16/13) noted, Emerson made a similar claim on a Fox News show as well–“nails and ball-bearings, which is a hallmark, by the way, of jihadist suicide bombings.” But, as Gharib points out, non-jihadists like the Unabomber also put nails into bombs.

 Will this latest incident have any effect on Emerson’s media career? If the past is any guide, probably not.


About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.