Conservative news outlets falsely claimed Arab “person of interest” in Boston bombing is being deported

Shaping the news to fit their own twisted worldview

Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and virtually the entire conservative news/noise machine were lit up today with the news that the Arab national they erroneously described as an FBI “person of interest” was quietly being deported back to Saudi Arabia under questionable circumstances. It started last night when Fox News “expert” Steve Emerson said on Sean Hannity’s show that the young man was being deported:

Emerson, a former journalist who has since made a career out of being a self-styled expert, was himself a little too credulous on the New York Post-boosted story line about the Saudi national, telling C-SPAN Tuesday morning that based on “certain classified information” that he was “privy to,” he was pretty sure authorities had found their man in “the Saudi national.” But six hours later, on Fox, he broke the news that “the Saudi suspect has been ruled out.”

This could have be an embarrassing, almost CNN-worthy, misstep for the expert, but speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox last night, he found a workaround:

EMERSON: Let me throw in another curve ball here that is going to make news. Remember the Saudi that they initially had arrested, or at least detained? … Well I just learned from my own sources that he is now going to be deported on national security grounds next Tuesday, which is very unusual.

By this morning, every right wing news outlet and website was alive and frothy at the prospect that the Obama administration was secretly sending the young man back to Saudi Arabia with the not-so-subtle implication that he might have been involved, maybe even the terrorist responsible for the bombings.

I learned of it this afternoon when a coworker said the story was being reported “on Yahoo”.

It was a story on Yahoo’s news site but it was a repost of a piece from Glenn Beck’s freakshow of a site The Blaze. The piece has been updated so many times now that it’s nearly impossible to read. However, for most of the day, it was boldly proclaiming that something nefarious was afoot.

All of this lead Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan to ask Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano if this wasn’t, in fact, a horrendous breach of national security and negligence at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Watch as Napolitano shreds this ignorant man so confident in his ignorance:

NAPOLITANO: I am unaware of anyone who is being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston. I don’t know where that rumor came from….Like I said, again I don’t even think he was technically a person of interest or a suspect, that was a wash. And I am unaware of any proceeding there, I will clarify that for you, but I think this is an example of why it is so important to let law enforcement to do its job.

DUNCAN: I want them to do their job and that is why I say, wouldn’t you agree with me that it is negligent for us, as an American administration, to deport someone who was reportedly at the scene of the bombing, and we are going to deport him, not to able to question him any more, is that not negligence?

NAPOLITANO: I am not going to answer that question, it is so full of misstatements and misapprehensions, that it is just not worthy of an answer…There has been so much reported on this that has been wrong, I can’t even begin to tell you, Congressman.

The Blaze finally updated their story with this information but did so in a way that implies that they somehow had a role to play in preventing this potential Arab terrorist from escaping:

UPDATE 1: 10:50am ET: Joel Cheatwood, President & Chief Creative Officer for TheBlaze, told Glenn on the radio show: “Just got a note from one of our investigative reporters that she has been told that there is now discussion that they may not allow this man to be deported.”

Finally, it turns out that there IS a Saudi national being deported. It just turns out to be some other guy that had nothing whatsoever with the bombing in Boston.

The right wing conservative news/noise machine has clearly already made up its mind that the Boston Marathon bombings were done by Muslim terrorists. They are working their asses off to fit “evidence” together that will prove their theory, even if it’s completely false. It’s offensive and, worse yet, it’s damaging to the overall effort to find and prosecute the person or people who are actually responsible whether they are brown-skinned foreign terrorists or domestic terrorists with white skin.

Meanwhile, the New York Post posted a front page photo of two young men with the headline: BAG MEN – Feds seek these two pictured at the Boston Marathon”. The two men had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this and one of them, a 17-year old, finally turned himself in to authorities after he was tagged repeatedly across the internet as a suspect. The worst part about this is that in the article itself the Post admitted that “it was not immediately clear if the men in the law-enforcement photos are the same men in the surveillance videos”. This, of course, didn’t stop them from running the photo on the front page with a headline that implied that very thing.

And people say that bloggers are unreliable sources of information…

[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]

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  • http://www.facebook.com/derek.beauchemin.1 Derek Beauchemin

    Cyber-sleuthing, cable news organizations, users of social networks, radical print and on-line ‘news’ muck-spreaders, et al., have long exhibited a lack of common decency in their quest to be ‘Number One’ and/or promote their agenda. With fast paced communication technology, as with everything in life, comes responsibility. This is not an endemic American problem, but rather a global pandemic and the consequences will be most dire unless all people learn to cease reacting without prior assimilation of all the facts and full deliberation as to the ramifications of their words.

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