Fox News' mess ups, of which there have been many, are always cause for an emotional predicament — it infuriates and delights me equally, because the level of ignorance on the "news" channel is astounding, yet I love it when it tucks its tail between its legs in whimpering shame while retracting the many asinine statements its anchors make on air. This time — and finally, really — Fox News apologized for the Birmingham Muslim comment by the channel's terrorism commentator Steven Emerson.
On Saturday, Fox News host Julie Banderas apologized for Emerson's remark about Birmingham being a city fully controlled by Muslims and where "non-Muslims just simply don't go in," before adding that Sharia law was violently enforced in London. Referencing Emerson's discussion with anchor Jeanine Pirro on no-go zones in Europe where they alleged that Muslims have full control over, Banderas said:
Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe. To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones... and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas that exclude individuals based solely on their religion...
We deeply regret the errors and apologise to any and all who may have taken offense.
Later on Saturday, Pirro also apologized for not challenging Emerson's inanity, and then provided census data from 2011 showing that 22 percent of the city’s population self-identifies as Muslim and that there was no evidence of a "no-go" area. She said, on her show:
Last week on this program a guest made a serious factual error that we wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected. The guest asserted that the city of Birmingham, England, is totally Muslim and that it is a place where non-Muslims don’t go. Both are incorrect.
In fact, the channel took time out of four broadcasts on Saturday to apologize for four separate occasions in which its anchors made negative and ludicrous claims about Muslims. Anna Kooiman and Eric Shawn were the two other Fox News hosts who retracted the false information about Muslims that were previously provided, CNN reported.
Emerson's remark caused widespread ridicule of both him and Fox News, prompting Emerson to quickly apologize soon after in a statement, which he called a "terrible error." It was a remark so absurd in its erroneousness that even the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, felt compelled to call him a "complete idiot." Cameron said:
When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools’ day. This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for calling out Emerson in what was surely the most publicly embarrassing moment of his career as a self-declared "terrorism expert." Here's hoping that Emerson will never again be publicly consulted on issues of terrorism, religious extremism, or national security again — basically whatever topics he has made a career being an "expert" on — but knowing Fox News' penchant for incendiary statements, we'll probably see him around again soon.