Why Is ’60 Minutes’ Misleading America on Lethality of Islamic Extremism?

Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer slams CBS News as 'a propaganda outlet for the Left, not a news source'

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley perpetuated the notion during Sunday’s “60 Minutes” that “right-wing extremists,” especially white supremacists, posed a far greater threat to the American people over the past decade than did radical Islamic terrorists.

Pelley participated in a “60 Minutes” special called “Rejecting hate, after spending nearly a decade spreading it.” The special centered around reformed white supremacist Christian Picciolini. Noting that the U.S. “has been focused on radical Islamic terrorism” to the exclusion of all other forms since 9/11, Pelley and Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) director Oren Segal downplayed the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism.

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“Since 9/11, the country has been focused on radical Islamic terrorism, but what do the facts tell you?” Pelley asked Segal.

“The data tells us this: Seventy-four percent of extremist-related killings in this country in the last 10 years have been carried out by right-wing extremists, not Islamic extremists,” Segal replied, pointing to data ADL compiled.

Pelley added, “Including white supremacists.”

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Segal replied, “Yes. So white supremacists, in particular, have been responsible for a majority of the killings, even in the last 10 years.”

But Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, accused CBS News and Pelley of peddling a “completely false statistic” that misleads the American people and downplays the real threat that the spread of radical Islamic terrorism has posed and continues to pose to the U.S.

“This is a completely false statistic, designed to foster ignorance and complacency about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat,” Spencer wrote Monday in a blog post on Jihad Watch. “And the establishment media repeats it, or variations of it, relentlessly.”

Spencer pointed to three reasons ADL’s data were inaccurate and why CBS News made an irresponsible decision to promote the study.

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“It misleads immediately by covering only the last 10 years. Why that period?” Spencer wrote. “What changed between 2006 and 2007? Why not go back 20 years? Because then the survey period would include 9/11, and would show Islamic jihad terrorists killing many, many more people than ‘right-wing extremists.’ So they start it at a point that suits the data they want.”

The Jihad Watch director also highlighted how counting the number of actual fatalities without considering the failed and foiled attacks with no casualties diminishes the real threat of radical Islamic terrorism. Counting victims killed only in extremist attacks fails to take into consideration failed attacks like last week’s attempted New York City bombing.

“Islamic jihad terror is an international movement, with jihad groups all over the world. White supremacism or ‘right-wing extremism’ isn’t,” Spencer noted. “CBS News is a propaganda outlet for the Left, not a news source.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. You can find her on Twitter here.

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