What can be learned from the Steve Emerson gaffe? - 8848

What can be learned from the Steve Emerson gaffe?

When so-called ‘terrorism expert’ Steve Emerson took to national television in the United States to claim the UK’s second-city Birmingham was a ‘no go zone for non-Muslims’ he could not have expected the online backlash he received from these shores.

His interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro went viral after Emerson claimed that non-Muslims don’t enter Birmingham  because of alleged Islamic rule.

His bizarre and totally unfounded claims came on the back of the horrific scenes in France last week and the folk of Twitter only seemed too happy to stick the boot into Emerson with the hashtag #FoxNewsFacts trending worldwide.

Speaking about the influence of radical Muslims in Europe, Emerson told Pirro: “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire. So there’s a situation that Western Europe is not dealing with.”

The video can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOWi8dWNjXU

Of course these comments didn’t go down too kindly in Birmingham, and the UK as a whole, who responded with typical British humour mocking Emerson’s comments under #FoxNewsFacts. There, Twitter users posted tongue-in-cheek claims hinting at Emerson’s assertions some included an image of famous Brummie Ozzy Osbourne, describing him as ‘the leader of the radical terrorist sect that controlled the city’.

But what can be learned from such a gaffe.

  1. Do your research.
    If you’re going to be making such claims make sure that your sources are credible and that your facts have been checked and checked again.
  2. What happens on TV ends up on Twitter
    There was a time when throw-away comments on television would be lost and forgotten about by the time they had a chance to be discussed over the dinner table or down the pub – not any more.
    With the power of social media Emerson’s comments prove seconds of footage in the United States can become a national talking point in the UK.  It is something to be aware of when publishing on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
  3. Are you an ‘expert’?
    If you’re going to call yourself an expert in front of a global audience at least know what you’re talking about. You may be confident in your chosen subject of discussion but an expert covers all bases or at least has the knowledge to appear like they can.
  4. Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience.
    The public are not stupid. If you treat them as such you will be quickly found out as a fraud. Steve Emerson had attempted to paint Birmingham as a radicalised UK city but within hours the ‘expert’ was soon the Twitter equivalent of the village idiot.
  5. Admit your mistake.
    There is a perception that admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness. In fact it should be viewed as a quality. For all their criticism both Fox News and Steve Emerson apologised for the comments with the later offering to make a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Author: Adam Thompson, account executive at Connect PR