Fox News has stood by a number of outlandish statements, but on Saturday the network formally apologized for an “expert” who claimed last week that large swaths of European cities have been taken over by Muslim extremists. The completely unsubstantiated assertion drew the ire of many Europeans, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called Fox News terrorism expert Steven Emerson “a complete idiot.”
Emerson later apologized on Twitter and his website, but Fox News finally apologized on air four times throughout their Saturday programming, clarifying that the claims had no factual basis.
“To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion,” Fox News anchor Julie Banderas said. “We deeply regret the errors and apologize to any and all who may have taken offense including the people of France and England.”
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Jeanine Pirro, who was interviewing Emerson when he made the comments, also apologized Saturday, saying she should have challenged Emerson’s “serious factual error.” The morning show Fox & Friends, which previously showed a map of all the places Muslim extremists had supposedly conquered, also backed down somewhat, saying “some of the neighborhoods were highlighted incorrectly.”
Fox News may be backing down now on this particular myth, but the apology hardly marks the end of the hysteria. The network built on the European “no go zones” story in a Jan. 14 report on “Muslim enclaves” in the U.S., asserting that cities like Redhouse, VA, Commerce, GA, and Dearborn, MI are “truly no go zones” with gated terrorist training camps and armed guards. Another guest told Neil Cavuto on Friday that European countries should be putting “razor-wire around those no go zones, you turn off the water and then as they come out you catalog them.” He also warned that similar no go zones governed by sharia law are spreading across the U.S.
Politicians have also jumped on the Fox report and are helping spread the misinformation. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), a rumored 2016 presidential contender, is planning to make a speech on Monday reiterating the existence of no go zones. “In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home,” his prepared remarks read. “It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so called ‘no-go zone.’”