Ed Wasserman

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  • In Email To Congress, The Blaze Seeks Help Pushing Debunked Saudi National Smear

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Glenn Beck's The Blaze continues to push the debunked claim that a Saudi Arabian national who was briefly placed on the federal No-Fly List following the Boston Marathon bombing was wrongly removed from that list and, at one time, was a suspect.

    And now it wants Congress to help.

    For weeks, Beck and The Blaze have fixated on the 20-year-old Saudi man, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, claiming that he was once considered a suspect in the bombing and had been up for deportation. Other news outlets have debunked these claims.

    But just this week, a producer at the conservative outlet sent an email (since obtained by Media Matters) to staff members at congressional offices of both houses and parties asking whether members of Congress would "be willing to raise" the Blaze's claims with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or FBI Director Robert Mueller.

    The email (below) from Blaze producer Virginia Grace states:

    From: Grace, Virginia 
    Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 4:40 PM
    To: Grace, Virginia
    Subject: Revised: Request from TheBlaze


    Over the past two weeks TheBlaze has been reporting on the Saudi National, AbdulRahman ali Al-Harbi, who was briefly detained as a potential suspect after the Boston bombing. Shortly after a search of his apartment in Revere, Massachusetts an event file was issued by the NTC designating him as a terrorist under the Immigration Nationality Act 212 (a)(3)(B)(ii)(II)  and making reference to involvement in the bombing. Twenty four hours later the file was amended to remove the terrorist designation and a short time after that removed from the system altogether. To date Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has refused to comment on the terrorist designation, first even denying Mr. Al-Harbi had ever been a person of interest before finally admitting to Congress on Tuesday that he had, in fact, been placed on the Watch List for a short time. TheBlaze believes the public has a right to know why Al-Harbi went from terrorist to nobody in the span of 48 hours. What evidence led to the designation in the first place and what transpired to reverse it a short time later.

    Would you be willing to raise those issues with Ms. Napolitano or Mr. Robert Muller at the FBI and report your findings to the American public?

    Please let us know.

    Sincerely, The Blaze

    Several journalism veterans say this email is unusual for a media outlet, both as an effort to spark political action and as an attempt to get members of Congress to do their reporting.

    "My general view is that legitimate, neutral news organizations should report and let members of Congress decide on their own whether they want to get involved," said Andy Alexander, former Washington Post ombudsman.