The self-described terror expert who recently caused an international uproar and was called a “complete idiot” by British Prime Minister David Cameron was scheduled to speak at this this week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference.
On Tuesday he told TPM by email that he pulled out at the last minute.
Steve Emerson, who has spoken at AIPAC in previous years, appeared on a booklet listing speakers for AIPAC 2015. The booklet identified Emerson as an expert in “e-terrorism and Islamic extremism” and said he was speaking on Monday.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris, Emerson said on Fox News that the British city of Birhmingham was “totally Muslim.” He later apologized for the comment.
Fox News also issued a correction for the segment, as well as for other segments covering the myth of European Muslim-only “no-go zones.”
Emerson’s remarks sparked so much outrage that Cameron eventually weighed in.
“When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day,” Cameron said. “This guy is clearly a complete idiot.”
In the same Fox segment, Emerson described Muslim-only “no-go zones” in other cities such as Paris. The mayor of Paris shortly after threatened to sue Fox News for defaming the city.
On Feb. 12, the Paris City Council voted to sue Fox News. The channel said it would fight the suit.
A Fox News spokesperson told the Washington Post it is “highly unlikely” that Emerson will “ever be booked again.”
In an email to TPM on Tuesday, Emerson said he accepted an invite from AIPAC but pulled out last week:
As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
I had accepted the invitation to speak at the AIPAC conference late last year and was planning to speak until I had to voluntarily pull out last week in order take care of an unexpected medical problem that required my immediate attention. No, sorry to disappoint the rooting squad at TPM, no connection here as you suggest and no conspiracy. But thank you for your concern.
The AIPAC booklet said that Emerson was scheduled to speak at three different times, under the heading, “Islamic Radicalism 3.0: Connecting the Dots Between Islamic Terrorism in the U.S., Europe, Israel and Africa.”
Update: This post and headline have been updated to reflect that Emerson canceled his appearance.
Ed.Note: We are publishing the following demand letter because I am happy to publish a demand for correction, deletion, apology etc which we decline to honor in any way because there is no basis on which to do so. However, in his letter Mr Horowitz casts numerous aspersions not only on TPM but also on the integrity and professionalism on TPM Newswriter Brendan James. These attacks have no merit whatsoever. In every aspect of his work on this piece, James has shown the attention to detail, professionalism and integrity which make me proud every day that he is a member of our team. – Josh Marshall
Dear Mr. Marshall:
I represent Steven Emerson and am writing regarding the behavior and article of your journalist, Brendan James, regarding my client. I know that you are aware of the matter as you published a follow-up article entitled Oooohhh Boy commenting on the matter.
The headline of the article published by Mr. James, Fox Terror Analyst Described As ‘Idiot’ By UK Prime Minister Pulls Out Of AIPAC is so clearly misleading that only a malicious intent can explain why it was so written. Mr. James using the phrase “pulls out of AIPAC” in a headline followed by an article on the no-go zone issue insinuates that the two are connected. Moreover, he published this article before receiving Mr. Emerson’s reply email 20 minutes later, stating that he cancelled his AIPAC appearance for medical reasons. In response to Mr. Emerson’s demand that this misconception be corrected, Mr. James left the headline as is and appended Mr. Emerson’s email response at the bottom of his article. The reader is still left with the incorrect impression that the content of the Mr. James’ article is the reason why Mr. Emerson did not appear at AIPAC.
Your subsequent article did nothing to dispel this falsehood. Indeed, what you referred to as “a blizzard of email” from Mr. Emerson were simply three email where he responded to TPM’s request, a second email asking why TPM did not wait for his response before publishing its erroneous story, and a follow-up email asking again, why did TPM not await his response before publishing the false and damaging headline.
Further, while Mr. Emerson apologized for his mistake regarding his Birmingham comment, he made no comment at all about Paris as Mr. James wrote. We would expect therefore for Mr. James to issue a correction for stating Mr. Emerson made comments about no-go zones in Paris.
The mistaken argument that has been made regarding the Paris issue is that in the transcript of Jeanine Pirro’s entire show Judge Pirro says “my last guest told us some chilling details about these no-go zones. What more can you tell us about these zones?” – while the YouTube clip and all other video of the issue begin with the segment where Judge Pirro introduces Mr. Emerson. The viewer therefore is unaware of what detail Ms. Pirro’s “last guest” provided. In his interview, while mentioning France, Mr. Emerson did not mention Paris at all, therefore the assertion that the viewer should make an inference that Mr. Emerson referred to Paris because of what someone else said not in this segment means is a fallacious argument.
The fact remains that not only is TPM mistaken that Mr. Emerson spoke of Paris, it made the Paris issue central to its defamation of Mr. Emerson by writing: “In the same Fox segment, Emerson described Muslim-only ‘no-go zones’ in other cities such as Paris. The mayor of Paris shortly after threatened to sue Fox News for defaming the city. On Feb. 12, the Paris City Council voted to sue Fox News. The channel said it would fight the suit.” TPM therefore leaves the reader to believe that Mr. Emerson is the reason for the lawsuit. Clearly TPM is unwilling or unable to admit its mistake.
Moreover, the headline Mr. James chose presents a far more serious breach of journalistic integrity and legal liability than Mr. James’ mistake about Paris. If he corrects this mistake, we expect that the article containing this headline be removed and an apology for publishing so misleading a headline be publicly issued. It is unconscionable to publish that Mr. Emerson “pulled out of AIPAC” giving the reader the impression that this was tied to the no-go zone issue, only to compound this unconscionability by thinking that appending his explanatory email at the bottom of the article will eliminate any misunderstanding and thus absolve the author and publisher from liability. The malice shown by TPM’s actions towards Mr. Emerson is beyond dispute.
I look forward to your retraction and apology so that no further communication or action on this matter is required.
Attorney at Law